Connecting the Dots

As an educator, I have had the privilege of interacting with amazing young people each year. In the scheme of things, our time together is brief. Each of them stay forever frozen as a middle schooler in my memory.

Apex Friendship High School graciously invited me to serve as the 2019 Baccalaureate speaker. A large number of the graduates spent their 7th grade year in my Language Arts class. I was beyond excited to witness how they had transformed into young adults, and to celebrate this significant milestone in their lives. Upon arrival, a handsome young man greeted me. There was an air of familiarity, but I was not certain enough of his identity to call him by name. After a quick glance in the program, a vision of sweet 7th grade Nick Ross flashed before me.

The ceremony started, and I could feel the lump in my throat forming. Nick stood at the platform and began my introduction. He read the prepared bio provided to all clients, and then simply added “but to me she will always be Ms. V.” Similar to when I was teaching, some of the graduates looked bored, whispered to their neighbors, or simply yawned and waited for dismissal. Stepping down from the stage, I prayed that I had planted seeds in the hearts of a few in the audience.

In the lobby, I spent time reminiscing with many of the students and listening to their exciting plans for the future. Nick’s mom, had handed me an envelope with the instructions to read it after the ceremony. On the cover of the card was a 4th grader proudly paying tribute to Jim Valvano for his Hero Project. Jenny Ross went on to write, “How fun that he had you as a teacher and gets to introduce you tonight. I’m crying, of course, at the thought of this. Funny how life has dots that connect in intentional ways.”

I wholeheartedly believe that I was meant to have Nick Ross as a student. Not because of anything unique that I had to offer. Little did I know that 5 years later, he would become my teacher. He stood before me with a multitude of colorful ropes adorning his neck, and proudly announced he would be attending North Carolina State University in the Fall. His enthusiasm and warmth created a powerful spark within me. All doubts and fears vanished, as I breathed in the knowledge that there is a divine plan and purpose for each of us.

Thank you Nick, and all the 2019 graduates of AFHS, for reminding me regardless of our age or experiences… each of us has the power to be successful, significant, and to live an extraordinary life.