You Hope It Sticks

Theatre, it connects us all.

And yet...sometimes I think we forget about how much we're all connected.

Our actions affect one another. Our work affects one another. Our perspectives and outlooks on life - they can be palpable. 

My father is directing a production of This Wide Night at Guild Hall of East Hampton. Two of my closest friends are starring in the production. Other friends of mine are doing the technical aspects. 

Yesterday, they had students attend from a school that houses troubled youth.

For five years, I worked at an alternative high school teaching theatre and English. I worked with students who hated education. I worked with students who had horrible home lives. I worked with students who had drug addictions. I worked with students who were juggling being a teenage parents.

It was draining. It was rewarding. It was tiring. It was invigorating. 

It was a tiny million things and large ones all rolled up into one that I can't quite explain. For teaching in situations like that will age you, it will change you, it will stay with you.

Often it seems like your students don't care.

And truthfully, in that time and place they don't.

But you pray that something sticks. You keep trying to get through to them, to listen to them, to learn from them - and hope that they learn from you.

Today I got an unexpected Facebook message...

Hey I don't know if you remember me, but I was your student from Rocky Point Alternative High School. This is probably really strange but I wanted to let you know that I just saw This Wide Night at Guild Hall yesterday, and I know one of the lead actresses. I knew I thought the directors last name sounded so familiar! It really was an amazing show. Anyway, I'm starting college this summer, and was just remembering how much time you, as well as the rest of the teachers invested in trying to teach me. Sorry I didn't appreciate it then, but I definitely do now.

What a message.

What a blast from the past.

Of course I remembered her. 

It was a year when all the students seemed like they didn't care. It was a year when all words appeared to fall on deaf ears. It was a year when every effort felt thankless.

And yet...here we are.

Years later.

Apologies and gratitude, and knowing that my words did stick.

To all of my teacher friends trying to get through difficult and trying days - know that they hear you. Know that you matter. Know that your efforts are for something, that one day, even if you're not around to hear it or see it or know it, they will look fondly back on their high school years and think - thank you for caring.