Compassion on 32nd Street -- by Jennifer Mitchell
Working in a school in December can be a very magical time. From the handmade gifts, to the handwritten cards, students seem to embrace the holiday and show compassion for one another.
However, when students leave school for the holiday break not everyone has the same experience, as a teacher that always tugs at the heart.
About three years ago, my grade level colleague had a student who very recently was being raised by her dad. The dad wasn’t expecting to take full custody of his two daughters and his living conditions were meager. He was a mechanic, and was living in a glorified shed on the car lot he worked for. There was no heat, so they kept a fire going to keep warm during the cold winter evenings. The little girl in my colleagues' class never complained, but her teacher would provide her with sweatshirts and clothes to make sure she was warm at night. As the holiday neared the little girl mentioned that for the holiday she wanted a Christmas tree, but there was no money for that. The teacher struggled with how to handle the situation. She wanted to provide the student with a tree, but didn’t want the dad to feel like he was unable to take care of his family. With much thought and consideration she came up with a solution. The class had a decorated Christmas tree that the teacher put out yearly. She decided to do a class drawing so that someone could “win” the tree and take it home for the holiday. What she didn’t tell the class was that the only name that was put in the drawing 20 times was the little girl who needed the tree.
The afternoon students left for break my colleague took the classroom tree and placed it in the car of a very deserving family. There was not a dry eye among staff and faculty. That is what the holiday is all about, showing compassion for others. When you least expect it you can make a difference in the lives of others. Small acts of kindness can bring such joy to others.