"Yes, that's right. I teach kindergarten south of town," I replied.
Encourage your daughter to follow her calling.
"Kindergarten. That's what my daughter wants to teach someday. Do you like teaching?"
"It's my life's work. I've been teaching at the same school for 28 years. When you're called to teach, it's what you do."
"Do you ever get to see your kindergarten kids as grownups?"
"Oh, sure! I see former students around town. I even have 'grandstudents,' you know...children of students I taught twenty plus years ago."
"At this point, I have some every year. Encourage your daughter to follow her calling. It's a good life," I said as we completed the transaction and I took my leave.
On the walk home I stopped by my favorite Sebastopol business, Many Rivers Books and Tea, to say hello to Rob and tell him I was looking forward to the book club meeting scheduled for tomorrow night.
As I left the store, I saw an elegantly dressed and attractive thirty-something woman walk towards me and smiling very broadly. That smile, I've come to learn, can mean only one thing: she is one of my grownup kindergartners. I recognized her immediately: Corinne!
We had a very nice talk. She's well. Studying economics. Happily married, still, to Ken. (I was a guest at their wedding.) Ken's working in the solar power industry. Corinne is thinking about starting a family. I told her I had just talked to a bank teller about the pleasure of talking to former students.
We caught up on other members of her class. Hollie, Kelly, Christina, Nichelle, others. They started kindergarten in 1982. I still regularly see about a half dozen of her class, the Dunham Class of 1989. They "graduated" from our sixth grade class twenty years ago.
We talked long enough for current Dunham students Rylee and Logan to call out as they drove by, "Hi, Mr. Gurney!" A minute later the mother of a former kindergarten student now in high school waved a friendly hello from across the street. I would have loved to invite Corinne into Many Rivers for a pot of tea, but I had to run. Tonight is square dancing night.
"Mr. Gurney, I want you to know, I think of you every day. You have always been my favorite teacher."
"Thank you, Corinne," I told her. "That means a lot to me." It really does.
Thank you, Corinne.