Medals and Miracles in First Grade

May 30

Contributed by Michelle Jorgensen

It was the last day of school for my kids on Friday, and we were all ready for it.  I’m as tired of homework as my kids are!  When they woke up that morning, they were all anxious to get out of bed and on to the last day of fun, except Luke.  He usually wakes up very much on the bad side of the bed, and this day was no exception.

I tried to get him excited by reminding him of the special awards ceremony his teacher was having.  I was planning to come for it, and he would be done and on his way home by 11:00.  He still wasn’t perking up.  Finally he grumbled, “I won’t get anything anyway.”  Thankfully his teacher told me she was rewarding all the kids that had learned all 71 phonograms, and Luke was one of them.  I reassured him he would get an award, and pushed him out of bed.

The Finisher’s Medal

The ceremony was like most of that kind.  She awarded the kids who grew the most (surprisingly Luke got one of those awards too—pretty sure her measuring tape is broken!), the child who had the best self-government, the most improved, etc.  Then she got to a special award.

She had a fancy medal from a running race that someone had given her.  She said she wanted to give it to the child that had run the farthest this year—the one that had made the most strides.  She explained that at the first of the year, this child could barely make it through a day without having a complete meltdown if things didn’t go exactly his way.  This child got to know the principal’s office well.  Frustration would take over and he couldn’t handle it.  This was starting to sound familiar….

She said that despite his frustration, this child was the first to give her hugs.  He was an eager beaver and wanted to help with everything.  I started to tear up because I knew which child she was talking about.  She said it had now been weeks, if not months since a meltdown. She finished by saying that this child was an angel in her classroom this year, and that for his hard work and incredible improvement, he got the finisher medal.  The child was my son Luke.

Angels in the Classroom

Anyone that knows Luke, knows that the angel in this story is his teacher.  Luke has had more than his share of challenges in his short life, and those challenges have left some pretty deep scars.  He can be very difficult to be around, and I witnessed some of those meltdowns in the classroom.  He worries a lot about Luke, and not a lot about anyone else.  We have had many nannies quit because of Luke’s behavior and attitude, and this school year could have easily taken the same turn.  Why didn’t it?

I can sum that up in one word. Love.  His teacher decided to love Luke.  She loved him for what he had been through.  She loved him for his strength.  She loved him for the softness that was just below his hard shell.  She gave him room to be frustrated, to be a little kid, and to find himself.  She loved him for who he is- rather than who everyone thinks he should be.  This teacher changed Luke’s life for the better, and she changed mine too.


Have you tried love lately?  I know we all love our families, we love our friends, we love those things that are easy to love.  That’s not what I’m meaning.   I’m talking about loving someone that isn’t very lovable.  I read a quote this week that said, “Be more kind than people deserve, because you never know what they are going through.”  That’s the kind of love Luke’s teacher gave.

I am going to take this sweet teacher’s lead and work on loving someone that I have had trouble loving in the past.  I challenge you to do the same.  It may be someone that is not living life as you would like them to live, someone that has hurt you or offended you, or someone that does not want your love.  Luke’s teacher made this look easy, but I know it’s not.  The thing that will keep me moving forward is that finishers medal hanging proudly around Luke’s neck.   Love can work miracles.  We had one in first grade this year.  I hope you have a miracle too!

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