As I look back on the time I was blessed to be Junior's teacher I know I did all I could do to help him improve academically. He made gains in all areas. I know I made learning fun I saw his eyes light up with every new topic I introduced. The one regret I have is that I didn't find a way to have more one on one meaningful conversations with that precious child. I want to be a teacher who knows more than just my student's test scores. I want to know their dreams for the future and the desires of their hearts. I pray as I move forward as a teacher and mother I never forget that each moment with a child is a blessing and a precious gift. I found this blog that offers a wonderful free download of questions that will help you unlock your child's heart and allow you to truly make the most of every precious moment. Please remember to make the most of each moment with your children and students. Don't wait for tomorrow because sometimes tomorrow doesn't come.
The first week of March this school year a precious little boy walked into my classroom. His name was Mario Junior Martinez. He had the biggest dark eyes, long eye lashes and soft black hair. He was smaller than most of my class, but had the heart of a lion. He could hold his own with all the bigger boys as they played at recess. He loved superheroes and wrestling. He wanted to be Superman. He was such a hard worker. He never complained even when the assignments were difficult. He was so well behaved and respectful. His parents had raised him and his siblings to value education and honor his teachers. Junior loved school. His eyes would light up with each new topic we studied. He quickly won my heart with his smile, laughter and precious voice. I adored him more than he could ever imagine. Junior was so excited about Play Day on May 14th. He asked me every 30 min. to tell him all we would do that day. He kept saying "my brothers say we won't have a swimming pool." I would laugh and explain they were correct, but we would have a big blow up water slide. His eyes would light up and he would smile and walk away. I couldn't wait to watch Play Day through his eyes. He was the last student standing beside me that day. I hugged him goodbye and as he walked away he turned to me and smiled and said "I can't wait for tomorrow." When Play Day began on May 15th I was concerned that Junior wasn't at school. About 9:00 a.m. our assistant principal came in to tell me Junior was being taken into surgery for a brain tumor. He had not shown any symptoms. I don't remember much about the rest of that day. I was on the verge of crying or being sick to my stomach all day. I spent most of the weekend at the hospital with Junior's family. I can't put into words how my heart broke for them. They are the most amazing, loving family. The honor his family gave to the staff from my school was so heartfelt. They allowed us to love them and help in any way we could. Our precious Mario Junior Martinez went to Heaven on May 17th, 2015. I knew going back to my classroom on Monday would be the hardest thing I would ever have to do. I would have to see all his things and his empty desk. I would have to watch my students hear that their friend would not return and see them try to work through this horrible loss and grief. I would have to work through my grief and still teach. Junior's family would need so much support and love and would be on my heart every second. I wish I could say the last few weeks of school were not as hard as I had worried they might be. We survived, but it was very difficult.
As I said goodbye to Junior and watched his family grieve my heart broke into a million pieces. His family became my adopted family. My boys and I love them with all our hearts. I pray I never lose touch with his family and we can remember Junior together every year on August 20th (his birthday). I pray I watch his siblings grow up and celebrate each achievement in their lives. As every teacher knows once a student enters your classroom they become forever yours in your heart. I will never forget Mario Junior Martinez. His picture will always have a special honor in my classroom and in my home. My youngest son said "mom you will always be his teacher." I smiled with tears in my eyes and said " and he will always be my little superman angel student."