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Chuck's column: The human side of teaching

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I announce some girls and guys basketball games here at Rosemount High School. I was recently doing a game when, at the half, two of my students from last year came to the table where I was sitting. The two girls are now juniors. They're rather delightful in their approach to life. They were all giggly and such. Good moods. It's the norm for these two. I can't imagine them any other way, frankly. One of them asked me, "Mr. Brooks, when we graduate and come back to visit, can we meet for coffee or something?" I chuckled. I responded, "Of course!"

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Something many people may not know about the job is the component that occurs rather frequently around here. Alumni who return to visit a place where they obviously felt comfortable and to visit those with whom they had made some type of connection. It tends to happen the most around the holidays. However, we'll see them throughout the year. Some will visit when they're home from college; some will visit when they're home on leave, or some will simply come visit when they're not working.

I've seen it all my career. After my initial years, I was one of those people who had alumni visiting them as well. I've always said it's that part of the job for which there is no monetary compensation. You can't put a price on this. The older I get, and the older the alumni get, the more awesome it is seeing some of these folks.

In December, I had a birthday. And, despite the fact I rarely "use" Facebook, I am on there and the most use it gets from me is clicking on an ADD FRIEND request and then logging out. However, on my birthday, I heard from over 60 folks. And many of the names of these people brought back some fond memories.

Maybe it is my age and the fact my career is winding down. It's interesting because as the former students have grown older, they've changed in most cases as well. Many are spouses with kids. Some are parents of kids I presently have. I'm not as thrilled about that scenario, truth be told. It's a daily glaring reminder that I'm getting old.

What fun! Not!

One of my students from the class of '86 calls me every year on my birthday, and I call him on his birthday, July 3. He's now a successful dentist with his own practice, a great wife and three beautiful girls. I get his Christmas card every year and their girls, who are always the main image on the card, are growing quickly.

There are stories upon stories of former students whom I've been able to connect with throughout the years. Some, I stay in touch with regularly. Most of us experience this. I think most of us would say it's nice they still remember us and want to reach out in some way to stay in touch.

I remember when I was a student in high school; I also remember returning to the school after I graduated so I could visit some of my teachers. It wasn't that I remembered them for their ability to communicate the subject matter. It was all about how they treated me. It was about the relationship I had with them. They were human and weren't afraid to show that side of themselves.

It's the one thing I always wanted to be in this job. I wanted the human side to show before the teacher side.

I hope I've done just that.

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