By Joan Clayton: PNT Religion Columnist
One of the many blessings in my life comes from former students. Teaching for 31 years left me with happy memories. A special bond between teacher and student lasts forever. Such was the case the other day when a Lt. Colonel walked up to me in a restaurant.
“Aren’t you Mrs. Clayton?” My eyes searched his as I wondered just how many students I had been privileged to teach in my career.
“I had you in second grade,” this handsome young man continued.
“Let me look at you,” I said with enthusiasm. Many of my ex-students keep the same facial features and are easily recognized. Others have changed more dramatically, but whether I recognize them or not, the thrill of their recognition of me touches my heart.
I gazed into his eyes and said his name. Those big brown eyes gave him away. He introduced his wife to me and we all had a big bear hug.
No matter how many years have come and gone, I still see my grown up students as those little trusting children who gave me love notes. Those “little people” came to me as gifts wrapped in love, entrusted to me for a special time in their lives and in mine. No matter how big or small they are now, I still see them as belonging to me, my children.
I well remember the day a student’s parent came to check her out. They were moving to another town. She clung to me and cried. I did too. I told her we would write to her and that she would always be in my heart.
Ten years later, someone knocked on my classroom door. This beautiful young lady walked in.
“Please have a seat and I’ll be with you as soon as I finish reading this story to the children.”
She smiled and sat down.
I finished the story. “What can I do for you?’
“You don’t recognize me do you Mrs. Clayton?”
I soon realized she was a second grader in my room from those previous years and I remembered her name.
She began to share her life. “I graduated from high school and I’ve moved back here to go to college to get a teacher’s degree and be a teacher just like you.”
I could hardly contain my joy. What pleasure she had given me. What a blessing both students brought. There are too many others to mention but I love them too just the same.
It is the same in God’s classroom. I am one of his children. I want to be the same trusting, eager to learn child like the children I had under my tutelage for so many years.
God has written me many love notes through his Word, the Bible. One of my favorite Scriptures is Romans 8:38: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NIV)
No matter how old I become, I am God’s child. He doesn’t have to stop to try to remember who I am. He tells me in Isaiah 49:16: “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” (NIV)
I am still learning in my Teacher’s classroom. Some of the lessons are hard, but my Teacher, God, is gentle and kind. When I do not understand, I go to him for help and he patiently shows me the way.
Like my “little people” wrote love notes to me, I now write love notes to my Teacher.
My Teacher and I are forever friends.
Portales resident Joan Clayton is a retired teacher and published author. Her e-mail address is: