Friday, August 17, 2012

Impact in the Cafeteria

(Before I begin, for those of you that don't know, I was able to transfer over to my "home" school for the new school year, and I'm very excited about it!)

One of the things our new principal stressed in the meetings today was the impact that a teacher's, or anyone's in the school, actions and words can impact a student forever. She stated that people won't always remember exactly what you said, or did, but they will remember how you made them feel.

This is something that I've been thinking about a lot recently. Really, since I took my first class with Ms. L at Lee, and especially after the second one I took from her.

A few days after I got on The List, I was called to go to one of the elementary schools that I attended, that I hadn't been to since I attended it. I went back to the room I was going to be in, then went back up front to get my attendance sheet, and saw...her. She was one of the aides when I was there, and had lunch duty while I was in the cafeteria. I hated lunchtime when I was there. She was always in there, and constantly yelling, threatening silent lunch, or a bad report to the teacher. For someone who was never in trouble, that was extremely frightening. Whenever I think back about my time at that school, one of the first things I always remember is her. Her impact on me has always darkly colored my opinion of that school, even though I had wonderful teachers and some great experiences there. Anyway, I asked the AP who had the attendance sheets...and she pointed to her. I have to be honest, I was 19 years old at the time, and absolutely terrified of asking her for the sheet. All of those old, insecure, fears of and 8-9 year old came bubbling to the surface. I went and asked her for the sheet, and she smiled and handed it to me, welcomed me to the school, and said she hoped I had a great day. I almost couldn't speak, I was so dumbfounded. So, I said "Thanks," and shot back to my room.

That night, I was on Facebook chat with an old friend of mine, who went to school with me there. I mentioned that I had been there that day, and the first thing she said was, "Do your remember [her] from lunch?" (She did correctly remember her name.)

At that moment, it hit me, just how much of an impact one lunchroom aide can make on a child. My friend and I both associate that school with negativity, because of how that aide made us feel. It doesn't matter how terrific our teachers were, or how the rest of the time went, that 30 minute span every day in the cafeteria is the first thing that we remember when someone mentions the name of that campus.

"Just an aide" can make a difference for the better or worse.

This is the first part of an exploratory series that I am planning.