Brookstone Country Club for Ashley and Sam, two former students who graduated from Kennesaw Mountain in 2006, familiar faces swirled around me.
Argh. Is that a parent? Did her kid flunk?
Is that Boyd? Where did all his hair go?
Dang. That face looks familiar… is that Mark, a student I knew by association, but not in my classroom?
WINGATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I need you.
For nine months since Wingate and I found out that Ashley and Sam had set a wedding date and invited the both of us to attend, we accepted the invitation and planned to go together. We looked forward to March 26, 2011, and talked about how fun it would be to see all of these former students, now graduated from college, some with jobs, others with fiancées, even others in graduate school.
We couldn’t wait to see them and celebrate not only the wedding but the fine young people they had become. As teachers of students in the Magnet program at Kennesaw Mountain, our experience with these smart young people had been such a blessing, regardless of the huge responsibility of teaching the best of the best.
Imagine how sad Wingate and I were to find out that with the death of her husband’s uncle, she would be unable to attend.
Me: Weddings and funerals… always together.
Wingate: I can’t believe it; I was looking so forward to it.
Me: I’ll have to be a loser, attending the wedding all by myself.
Wingate: Give them my love, will you?
Me; Of course, but they will all be disappointed.
I picked up my table assignment and proceeded to waltz my way past the long line at the bar and those congregated in an anteroom for appetizers.
As I arrived at the table, I clapped with glee. Faces I know! People I know! Yay!!!!!
Fortunately, Ashley and Sam made sure I was seated with the delightful and entertaining parents of Audrey and Lindsay, two former students who were like teaching the brain trust. Always appreciative and complimentary of Wingate and my efforts as teachers, it was like being welcome home.
Hugs all around.
Also seated at the table were Leslie [forgive me Leslie if your name is spelled differently --it‘s been a freakin‘ long time], Lindsay and her current squeeze John, whom I proceeded to interrogate like he was an assassin, and the effervescent Boyd, a former student who could make pickin’ lint entertaining. I had hit jackpot gold at this table, and the evening turned out to be incredibly fun.
Hardly able to drink my first sips of Diet Coke before I was accosted by some of Kennesaw Mountain‘s finest, I heard gasps of “Mrs. Gillham!!!!! And Where‘s Wingate?“ till I felt like celebrity du jour.
I had no idea, until I stepped back into the loving arms of those guys, how much I missed these young people and their wit, their intelligence, and their bright eyes and enthusiasm.
Aww. For a moment I was like “I miss teaching.”
*slaps self in head*
Snap out of it!
As Ashley and Sam’s bridal party was introduced, I went down the line and saw that I knew them all -- at one time, all but one of them had been held hostage in my classroom.
What a special night this was indeed --- for Ashley and Sam beginning their married life together -- and for me, a valued teacher to them, to be part of it.
BTW: I had no intention of dancing -- thank you Boyd, my date, and Leslie and Lindsay, who used to be so quiet but turned into “wild girls” when the primitive beat of The Black Eyed Peas began.
What was that song? "Boom, Boom, Pow"? "Boom, Boom, Wow?" "Boom, Boom, How?'
Eh. Where's Foreigner's "Hot Bloodied" when I needed it?
What’s always hilarious about seeing all these former students again is what they remember about my classroom.
1. Robert: the fact that [he] was enrolled in a advanced English class, but that I insisted on beginning each class period by saying: “Okay, Mo Rons, let’s play school.”
2. Adzi - that I, at one point during her class, had taken up a Snappy Hand Toy Sticky Fingers [totally Googled that] from a student but became so entertained by it that I couldn’t manage to control myself. I stood in front of the classroom and practiced its supposed eight foot range by slapping the desk and stealing test papers from unsuspecting students. Adzi noted, “It was quite frightening, and you did it to Sam [the groom] repeatedly.”
*ponders how wise this must have been for classroom management*
3. Daniel -- that he had interpreted a poem by John Crowe Ransom titled “Janet’s Waking” one way, and that I had just looked at him like he was from Mars and said, “Uh. Nope. You’re wrong. Next, “ unlike other teachers who would have softened the blow. Daniel said, “Even though, I still contest that I was right.”
Me: Trust me. He was wrong.
4. Scott -- that he is still traumatized by the way my red pen bled on his papers. I think he wiped tears from his eyes.
Eh. They all survived, and to me, they looked better for it.
Thank you! Thank you! Ashley and Sam for inviting me to your beautiful wedding.
It was beyond special. Really.
So, who’s next of my former students to get married?
I’ve practiced my dance moves.
Hums, "Play that funky music, white boy..."