My Journey of Life and Learning (with occasional digressions)

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Long ago, I read a short story by an author who talked about the small tokens and gifts that they had received from their children over the years. A plain, ordinary shoe box housed these treasures which the author lovingly called “gummilumps.” The box contained macaroni necklaces, pressed flowers, a feather glued to construction paper and a rock that was suspected to be an arrowhead. I suppose all parents have a box of gummilumps that they treasure.

I accepted an assignment to fill in for a sixth grade art class and, having not been with students that young, I was intimidated by these small creatures. Were they going to behave, attack, have a mishap, sneeze on me…the list goes on. One of them approached me after class and handed me this picture:


Picture of Mr. Matthews

Drawing of Mister Matthews by a sixth grade artist


My heart melted! The fear was gone, hasn’t returned and I was even able to comfortably fill in with third graders. I have only mental pictures of their faces when I read to them during “story-time,” but that goes right into my treasure box along with the masterpiece. When I’m fortunate enough to substitute at that school, I always break into a grin when I see that little artist…

In high school English, I had the honor of reviewing the play Macbeth with a group of rather active seniors. The play is intense on many different levels and lends so much to discussion. Some students engaged, others relentlessly tried to text and “snapchat” with buddies. I fostered student discussion as well as I could, but when the bell rang and they all left, I stood there for a moment wondering if anything had been absorbed at all. I went back to the teacher desk to write up my substitute notes for the day. Atop my yellow notepad was the following note:

Thank You Note

I sat down and took a long drink of water. I reread that note and smiled. The student who left that note may never know how they validated my efforts to become a teacher. They didn’t sign it. I’ve been in that class many times since and no one has ever approached me about it. Maybe it’s most effective if it remains anonymous. After all, can anybody ever say from where a refreshing breeze comes?

So…thus far, these are my first two physical gummilumps from my students that I will always treasure. I don’t know if there is a big enough box to contain all the gummilumps that have come as high fives, fist bumps, unexpected hugs, smiles, “a-hah” moments of comprehension, or other wonderful moments that I’ve been privileged to share with these wonderful little people. The best part is that I’ve only been doing this since October, 2016, so I’m confident there will be plenty more coming my way!


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