Just over three years ago I left the Wendell School District. Although it was the best job I've ever had, and I loved it - loved, loved, loved it - my health wouldn't allow me to stay.
Obviously I've had three years to think about that, and I've written about it plenty, including in my newly published book! (You can get a copy here.)
Last week something happened that reminded me of how much I loved being a school counselor. I went to the Eagle Camera Club meeting last weekend. They were putting on a macro-photography workshop. One of the members had his two children there. There were so well behaved, sitting through the lecture portion of the night. After explanations, we all got up to go practice the techniques we had just learned about.
The member's daughter, a third grader, came up to me. "Do you want to take pictures with me?" I don't know why she approached me. I'd like to think that it's because I'm approachable. Kids recognize my genuineness. I heard once that children are drawn to the oldest person in the room who takes them seriously. Of course they like their peers, but they like to be around older people - older meaning just older, not elderly.
So I think she looked at me that night at the camera club meeting and recognized - somehow - that I take kids seriously. So for the next 30 minutes, she and I walked around the various rooms, taking pictures of things. "Chris, what do you think looks interesting?" I was so touched that she wanted my opinion. There are a lot of people who would be more interested in taking the pictures they want to take and just have me watch. But she wanted my opinion. So I pointed out various things and explained why I thought they were interesting.
"I think this is interesting. I like the lines. See how most of the lines are horizontal, but this one line cuts across? I like that. And I like the shadows it makes."
She would say, "That is interesting," then take a picture with her iPod.
"What else do you think is interesting? And I would point out and explain something else.
She also took time to show me some of the things she had already photographed, and she tried explaining to me why she thought they were interesting.
At the end of the night, she invited me to dinner with her and her dad. She also invited me to trick-or-treat with her family. I politely declined, but that small gesture made me so happy.
I didn't take a single picture with my own camera that night.
It was the most fun I've had in a very long time.