Linda Foote is a STAR community member from Poway, who has been with us since the very beginning! Her calls and emails over the past 10 years have always been such an encouragement to me.
I asked some of our community members to share pictures of moments in which they felt complete and fulfilled (stay tuned for that post next week). The pictures are still pouring in, but Linda sent one that came with a story. I just had to share it with you. Stories like these are the reasons why educators have the most rewarding, enriching, encompassing, exhausting, and invigorating jobs.
This is the picture that makes Linda’s heart smile and why!
“I had my final test to see what the tumor in my lung might be that morning so they took our class photo last so I could get back from my tests and be in the photo. I had just found out I had lung cancer and this class was the best medicine ever. One little girl told me she was going to grow up and cure cancer. They were all just amazing.
There’s one little guy in there that was overwhelmed. Things were not good at all and he had been a huge behavior problem in our school. BUT, a year before I had him, he would just show up in my classroom after school for “no reason.” I kept asking who he was and if I could help him. He’d always say no, stand there for a few minutes, and then toodle off toward home. Finally one day he said, “Aren’t you Mrs. Foote? My brother said you told him your classroom was a safe place and that you promise no one will hurt you with words or actions here. Sometimes I just need a safe place.”
Well, I ended up working with him all the way through high school graduation because the district would call me every time he was in trouble. Finally I just mentored him all the way.
He joined the marines and his dad kept forgetting to give me his new address. He wasn’t on Facebook and I was frustrated to be out of touch with him and his brother. One night when I was going to bed nearly two years after I’d not been able to find him, God really impressed on my heart as I was praying to get back up and look for Jason on Facebook. Really, God? I’ve looked on all social media over and over. It was such a strong feeling that I got up and looked. He and his brother were suddenly both there.
I messaged both of them and sent them friend requests. The older brother had left an answer by the time I woke up the next morning. He said they were both in Afghanistan and that his brother wanted me to know they were making the WORLD a safe place like I had taught them in my class. They both accepted my friend request.
While I was at work that day, their neighbor who works in our district warehouse called me to tell me the marines were next door and that he had been killed. I said, “NO, he just friended me a few hours ago.” It turns out that his dad said he called him that morning to tell him, “Mrs. Foote found me!!!” He was all excited and talked to him for a half hour about it. Then he said he had to go on a mission with his team. He was killed on that mission.
I can’t imagine if God hadn’t made me get up and check that night. Only He knew what the next day would hold. I invested more in this little guy over all those years than many of my students. It was hard to say good bye so soon. But, knowing as a teacher you had the most amazing opportunity to help his scary world, his abandonment, his fears, and more turn around. Teaching him to have confidence, and to overcome.”
Thank you Linda for all you continue to do to make a difference in the lives of children!