Monday, August 20, 2012

Stars - And He Cast Them into the Ocean

As was mentioned in my last post, a dear childhood friend of mine passed away recently. He was a remarkable teacher with a fabulous reputation and many teaching awards and recognition granted to him. His life was devoted to teaching and building people up, helping them to love themselves, work hard, be the best that they could be, and live good lives. He was loved and respected by many, and he deserves that love and respect.

I got on one of Jason's blogs this morning and ended up reading an old writing he posted on Jan 23, 2008. This post very much shows the kind of teacher and person that he is. I am not crying at the moment, but part of me wishes to. I ache instead over the tragic loss of him. I know I already wrote and posted a tribute to him (The Measure of a Great Man), but I would like to pay another small tribute to him  again by showing you a few of the thoughts of this good man's heart and of the legacy he left behind as a teacher and builder of so many children - and adults. He built them up. He encouraged them to work hard. He taught and inspired them to be good.

I will offer the link within the title of the text he wrote, but also desire to copy and paste it here as well. For any who may wonder what kind of man he is, I think this post will give you a small glimpse of what a truly good person he is - as ALL who know him readily agree... 

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Stars   

By Jason Frederick Zimmerman


I had a friend who needed to cancel our evening plans, which led me to stay at work a little bit later than usual tonight. As I entered grades, visited with a few other teachers, organized the room, and began to get ready for the next day’s teaching, my classroom door swung open. Standing there was a student I hadn’t seen for quite a long time…I’ll call this boy, ‘Joey.’

As Joey strode into the room I found myself surprised to see him, especially so late in the evening. How had he gotten into the school? Why was he here? Joey walked straight up to me and threw out his arms, embracing me in a bear-type hug. It was then that he began to talk. I couldn’t believe just how big this boy had become since he’d been a chubby little fourth grader in my classroom some six years before. He’d become a fine young man, now in his second year of high school.

Joey talked, expressing several times just how much he loved being in my class as a 4th grader. He reminisced about the voices I’d used for read-aloud, the assignments he’d had fun with, and just how much the room had stayed the same…though it was just a little bit smaller than he remembered. His face grew somber as he turned and looked me in the eyes. He began to thank me for the countless hours I’d spent on him; hours of working on assignments as well as tutoring him with reading.

He took a deep breath and then said, “I wanted to tell you something else…I wanted to let you know that I’m a good kid. I’m not perfect and I’ve done some stupid things in my life, but when I started to drive to the school tonight to visit you, I thought about how proud I was of the fact that I am a good kid, and I wanted you to know that. I’m not trying to toot my own horn or anything like that, and I hope you don’t think I’m being prideful, but I’m not doing drugs, I’ve got a lot of good friends, and I’m nice to people. I’m proud of myself and I wanted to let you know that, too, because, it was you who really made me the person I am today. I can remember all of the long hours you worked with me and helped me to love school. The things you taught me about being a good person. Well, I just wanted to thank you for that.”

It wasn't long before Joey’s cell phone rang…it was his mom. He needed to be home for dinner soon. I walked him out of the school; before he got into his car he gave me another hug, once-again expressing his gratitude. As I watched the taillights of Joey’s rover vanish into the darkness, I climbed into my own car and made the trip home over the icy streets of town, my head a flood of reflection. I had thought about Joey—on numerous occasions. He’s the type of student that teachers often think about…wondering: Was all the time I spent on him wasted?

I felt a wave of gratitude wash over me as I drove home; thankfulness for the time I’d chosen to spend on this particular child who had struggled with education for so many years. It was this same boy, ­now sixteen, who helped me to realize that the time we invest in others, though it may tax us to our very limits, can make the biggest difference. This time we spend is NEVER wasted.


In the words of Loren Eisley:

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.

Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”

The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

“Son,” the man said, “Don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach, and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, “I made a difference for that one.”


This is exactly how Jason lived his life. He spent it, making a difference in as many lives as he possibly could, no matter how impossible it may have seemed to others, and even when others may have looked at his recipients as just a number... The beauty about Jason is that in his eyes, no one is just a number! Many people will greet him on the other side and thank him for reaching out to them and helping them to be so much more than they ever thought possible. I know I will! :) I think I'll write a small note to Jason, from me and all the other stars that he threw into the ocean as he struggled through his own life.

Dear Jason,
Thank you so much for reaching out and building up so many! Thank you for LOVING so unconditionally! And thank you for doing the impossible, and throwing us into the ocean, even though the task may have seemed impossible!

God be with you, till we meet again!
Your friends on earth and through eternity...

4 comments:

  1. Thank you, Mindy. Jason and the time we spent with him are also dear treasures...

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  2. Danielle, thank you so much for your sweet comment. I hope you are handling things well and feeling good. Give yourself a big hug to you from me. :)
    Corine :D

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  3. Another beautiful tribute...

    No wonder Jason treasured his memories of the times he spent with you and your family growing up.

    Thank you for your kind words on my own post about Jason.

    May you be blessed with peace during this time.

    - Mindy

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There is a ripple effect in all that we do; what you do touches me, what I do touches you...

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