A ninth grader asked me to write her a letter of recommendation for a program allowing her to act as an overseas student ambassador. She was very enthusiastic.
I agreed to write the recommendation, having only good things to say, but I asked her to furnish me with a resume of sorts, detailing her activities outside my classroom. I always ask for these to further strengthen my comments. Two days later, she returned with a paper entitled "My Accomplishments."
I had absolutely no idea. I was blown away. This paper detailed the secret life of a student. For so many weeks, she had sat quietly and politely in the center, front of my class. Come winter, she toted her pink earmuffs. She left them by mistake once and I held them for her. She is a real sweetheart who rises up to help me without being asked.
What I didn't know, however, was entirely shocking. She started winning gold medals in national Shotokan Karate at the age of five. She won medals for Kata and Kumite. She went on to place second in a Karate Jr. Olympics. Now she has over seventy Karate medals and trophies from competitions across the United States. She earned her Black Belt at age eleven and her Black Belt II two years later.
Karate was only one of her several interests and talents, but it was by far the most impressive to me. It also proved the most surprising to me. If I had been asked to guess which of my students had a Black Belt, I might have guessed her, pink earmuffs and all, towards the end of my list! Knowing her personal integrity, however, I am forced to believe the otherwise unbelievable. Kudos!
And, it only goes to show what each of us knows already: Our students are built of many layers. They are infinitely more complex than we know. They are infinitely more complex than any formula can measure. Sometimes, we may see only the smallest part of our students. Test scores see far less! Kiya!