Dear Montbello High,

Thursday, August 13, 2020

To you, 

When we met I had no inkling the impact you would have on my life. I was completely unaware of the love we would share or how long you would stay in my heart. As a young 25 year old, recent graduate/two-time Alumni of Troy University, (Troy, Alabama), and newly residing resident of Denver, Colorado, I was looking for a new lease on life and a place that would afford me new opportunities. 

Shortly after my move, my aunt (one of my favorites), helped me land a job after only three weeks of living there. I became the Director of N. U. L. I. T. E. S. With The National Urban League. I  was blessed to have gotten a job so quickly, but I was shaking in my boots with fear of the responsibility I was taking on and insecure of my ability to carry out the job as efficiently as expected. Nevertheless, I embraced the challenge and put my best foot forward as I put on my 'my big girl panties', opened the door and walked down the hallway of Montbello High School. 

As a recent graduate with degrees in both Sports Management and Athletic Administration, I had no desire or had even ever thought of working with students of any age other than college athletes. Fifty-lem of my family members are teachers or have previously retired from teaching including my mom and my dad. So you can imagine the butt-load amount of horror stories I've heard over the 30+ years of them teaching. My patience and skill set would not allow me to tolerate the nonsense of elementary, middle, or high school students. However, after starting this new adventure I began to love what I was doing and the bonds I was building. 

As the director I was in charge of a multitude of tasks to include searching for and securing during and after school programs and activities, starting a tutoring and mentoring program to name a few. On top of that, I became an assistant girls basketball coach, statistician for girls and boys basketball teams on all levels, AND was the equipment manager for all 13 sports that the school had at the time. My hands were always full and I knew just about every student. There were quite a few that stood out amongst the others, some of which I took under my wing. 

Okay, okay enough back story. 

In the beginning it was hard to be taken seriously. I found it difficult to build rapport and gain trust from you. [Boys will boys and flirt with attractive older women even teachers/school personnel]. Pushing the limits, crossing boundaries by leaps and bounds to prove you are a man. Boy, let me tell you, I refuse to be that teacher on the 5 o'clock news with a mugshot and headline reading "High School Teacher at Montbello High School, has been arrested and charged with statutory rape with numerous 16 year old boys. [Girls will be girls and become jealous believing another girl (woman) is taking the attention off of her that she's seeking from ' the cutest boy in school'. ] Girl, this grown woman that I am, wants no business at all with a sloppy, misbehaving, skipping school little TEENAGER. So please know that I will not be stepping on your toes nor will I be in competition with you over a child. And please stop running your mouth about me and how you want to beat my ass cause you think you're little boyfriend has his eyes on me.  

As the weeks go by and I begin to enroll you into different programs based on your interests and my growing recognition of your gifts and talents, strengths, and your shortcomings. I begin to gain your trust as I had been successful in building a strong rapport with you. You trust me now. You come to me when you're struggling in your classes, having problems at home, have been dumped by who you felt at this moment was the 'one you can't live without', or when you are heated and ready to fight. Sometimes you don't make it to me in time and you end up in a mountain of trouble. Other times I am called to calm you down and prevent things from escalating. 

None the less, no matter how much of a headache you gave me, I wouldn't erase any of the derogatory names I was called nor the times when you refuted my advice and my instruction and did whatever the hell your little hardheaded bad ass wanted to do anyways. Hanging with the wrong crowd will always lead you down a path you do not want to follow. 

The older you got, the more mature you became. You are bright, very intelligent, kind, strong, capable, funny, and talented. My goal was to reveal to you what you are made of. Your home life may not have been the best, and you may not have had positive influences around you. I felt it was my duty to uplift you and support you in any way that I could. I saw in you what you had no idea you had inside of you! I felt it was my responsibility to show you what you're made of. It was up to me to show and tell you that you matter and you will one day make a difference!

You showed me another side of me I didn't know I possessed. I developed patience. I learned how to deescalate situations before they turned into disasters. I discovered I had more strength than I ever knew I had while breaking up the fights.  I also began to see that no matter your background, or your circumstances, or your sexual orientation, or your' affiliation' you know what I mean.....You deserved to be loved and nurtured, molded and scolded. 

You are now well into your mid 20s. You've grown so much. You have seen the light. You have learned many life lessons. You've become more responsible.You have done so many amazing things and overcome so many obstacles you should be proud of. You appreciate the money you make and you take care of the family you've created. I knew you would make me proud. You've always made me proud. You will continue to amaze me with your accomplishments and I will always be proud of you. 

You gave given me strength, hope, brought me to tears, made me smile, made me cuss & fuss, helped me conquer some of my fears, but most of all you have given me joy! While teaching you lessons and guiding you to a higher ground I learned right along with you. I grew with you and I am still watching you grow from afar.  I will forever cherish the memories. The love I have for you will never die. And always know I will be here for you as you go along through life when you stumble into hard times and even if you just need an encouraging word or jaw breaking laugh. 

The gift of YOU, you've given to me no one can ever take away! 

If someone has inspired you, made a difference in your life, or has even just been your shoulder to cry on, take the time to send them a card or give them a call and let then know what they mean to you. And if possible, I challenge you to be that shoulder, that support, and that lifelong influence for someone else  Changing lives benefits everyone  

Love always, 

Ms. Summer (and remember, you'll always be my 'kids')

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