Core scripture: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Message: Nobody wants to hear one of your best students is moving away. Sadly, that was the case for me a few weeks before Christmas Break when I learned sweet Sayri was moving back home to Mexico.
My heart broke for her. She was one of those kids who you didn’t want to see leave. And to think this was all a whirlwind decision, something that took everyone by surprise—man, that made it hurt that much more! I think it was just a few days’ notice.
It was a Thursday. I was looking forward to 6th hour to see her, but she was absent. Word quickly spread from her friends in class that she was at the dentist one last time before moving. Tomorrow would be her last day.
“Will she be here?” I asked.
The class all responded together enthusiastically that yes, she would! My mind began to churn with ideas. What if I threw the rest of the lesson out and we did something special for Sayri? What if we as a 6th hour class did something memorable for her?
I asked for suggestions, and Yami quickly suggested we write messages on the white board. BENEATH the screen. Then we could have it hidden and dramatically reveal it to Sayri the next day! It was brilliant. The kids took turns running up to the board to write their tributes.
It was then that I had an idea. What if we took a series of quick video messages and spliced them together into a tribute to Sayri? The kids LOVED the idea! I quickly grabbed my device and began taking them into the back room to shoot the videos while the rest of the class wrote messages on the board.
That night I didn’t watch any Netflix or par ooze espn.com at home. Instead, I got to work on Video Editor, creating a beautiful memory for our soon-to-be lost classmate. It was short but sweet. The personalities of all her classmates came alive! Tears welled in my eyes as I watched it.
Friday afternoon came. Sayri walked in with an entourage of friends treating her like a celebrity. There were hugs, a few tears, and of course laughter as well. None of us could wait to pay tribute to the young lady of the hour. The bell rang, and class began.
I tried to make it as normal a day as possible, but the excitement was building. Sayri knew something was up! And when I finished class announcements and whipped up the projector screen, the cat was out of the bag. Sayri relished the messages written by her classmates.
I took the opportunity to do a group picture of the class to commemorate the occasion (see picture above). I then pulled the screen back down and turned off the lights for the video. Not one to soak in the attention, Sayri beamed from her seat shyly. The moment was perfect.
When class ended that day, we made eye contact, and she walked up to me, backpack slung over her shoulder. She handed me the Queen of the Week crown that she had won. I couldn’t say much. The lump in my throat had grown to the size of a cantaloupe.
“We will miss you, Sayri!” I managed to say.
She hugged me and bravely went out to take on the world. That girl was going somewhere! Straight A’s. Determined work ethic. Sweet as can be. How could she not? She emailed me a day later asking for the link to the video. I shot it off to her, asking her permission to write about her on my blog.
I didn’t hear back from her until last week. She loved the idea! Hence, I get to dedicate this piece to her this morning. It is a story long overdue to share with you all but so worth the wait. And Sayri is sure to be reading it and reminiscing about her old 6th hour class down in Mexico. I cannot wait to send her the link.
What can we all pull from this? Allow kids to feel special. Celebrate them! Go to extraordinary lengths to show them how much you care for them. They may not remember everything you teach them, but they will carry the memories of how you made them feel. That legacy will be tattooed on their heart.
Challenge: How do you make your students feel special? To what lengths would you go to celebrate an incredible student in your class? Do something memorable for them this week.
Clint speaks: The goodbye video to Sayri was legendary! Here it is …
Scripture study: Read John 4:1-42. Journal or discuss the following questions …
- How did Jesus treat the woman with love instead of judging her as He could have?
- How were Samaritans typically treated during this time and culture?
- What was the result of Jesus making this woman feel special?
Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord …
- Praise God for opportunities He gives you to celebrate students.
- Pray that your eyes will be opened to kids who need to be celebrated.
- Pray that Sayri’s transition to Mexico will allow God to use her in extraordinary ways! She is a believer.
Just for fun: One of my goofball gentlemen in 6th hour, Kade, cracks me up. In his journal last week, he wrote about a problem affecting his life. Apparently, the kid is jealous of the monkeys dancing on the bed. He wants to dance like them, but even his best efforts leave him lower than their superiority in dancing skills. He is bound and determined to dance better than those monkeys, but he knows the monkeys will always beat him. Therefore, he is saddened. Just yesterday I allowed poor Kade to take center stage along with his buddy Alan to show the class his sick dance moves. Judging from my eyes, those monkeys got NOTHING on my boy Kade!
Prayer: Lord, thank you so much for the opportunities You give us to make students feel special. May we never neglect an opportunity to do that. Amen.