Originally posted on August 5, 2016, “Throwback Thursday: The Speech I Actually Gave” recalls last year’s graduation where I celebrated the type of student I respect the most – the student who knows what to do when he does not get a 100.
This is actually the second speech I was supposed to give at graduation (see “The Speech I Never Gave). Furthermore, all this discussion about speeches serves as a precursor to the next installment in what has become a tradition over the years – my writing of letters to graduates who have profoundly affected me as a teacher.
There were plenty of “smarter” kids who were doing worse. I always appreciate the kids who are willing to work harder even if their chances of getting a top score are negligible more than the ones who lay it up for low 80s.
Good job doesn’t cut it anymore and neither do average grades; instead, success awaits those who are willing to bust their humps for it. And this guy will, that much I know.
Mr. G., what’s the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs – go!
Na, relax, I don’t want you taking off across the field. Today is not a grammar lesson, although most days are.
This kid absolutely abhors grammar. However, unlike many students I’ve taught and continue to teach, he never quit on it. Instead, sometimes with a little prodding but usually independently, he committed himself to solving his problem.
That entailed seeing me for extra help during homeroom and sometimes during lunch, which when you see me twice a day is probably too much Chapin for even my wife. But really now, that’s representative of the type of student Mr. G. is. He might not get a 100, but he’ll always exert himself in the pursuit of it.
What a talented poet, too. The kid uses his senses to create better than almost any young writer I’ve taught, hence why I have called him the master of imagery. If you have a chance to pick up our school’s literary magazine Soundings, check out Timothy’s piece in addition to many other fine pieces by our middle school writers.
I think what really has always made Mr. G. stand out to me over these years is his unchanging humanity. What a good-natured, genial, and most of all empathetic young man. I wish more kids his age, I wish more high school seniors, had these qualities because whether you realize it or not, we’re all in this thing together.
And, Timothy, remember, transitive is when… Na, I’m still joking.
Congratulations to you and your family because you earned every bit of this!