If You Only Knew Me
Late one night I happened to be flipping channels and came across a show on MTV. It’s called “If You Only Knew Me”. The show picks a different high school each week and takes the students through a one day Challenge Day program. It starts out with everyone playing fun games, but by the end of the show everyone has shared a deep part of themselves.
I started DVRing the show and every time I watch it, I end up in tears. Here you have a group of youth that start out with their basic labels (prep, jock, emo, nerd, lesbian). But as they do different activities, each person shares something about themselves (i.e. they are homeless, they hate to look at themselves in the mirror, they’ve contemplated suicide, they feel all alone) It’s an amazing transformation to see these teens realize how many things they have in common with each other. They realize that although someone else’s life seems “perfect” he/she has his/her own struggles. It was often the students with the biggest personalities that had the most to reveal.
It was also an important message for each person to understand that they are not alone. The person that thought about committing suicide realized that many others had felt at their all time low. The athletes sometimes broke down crying because all their life they never felt good enough in their parents’ eye.
I don’t cry often, but this show has a tremendous effect on me. I think it would be pretty cool if adults could do the same type of activities. So often we judge people by the neighborhood they live in, the crowd they hang around, the church they attend or even the men/women they’ve dated. We stick our noses up at others and assume the gossip we hear is truth. But, if we “really knew each other” we could see that we’ve all had our struggles. Some reach back to childhood, while others have their own personal struggles today. How often have you talked about someone or posted something on Facebook about them without evening taking time to realize what type of emotional toll it could take on that person? We need to quit judging each other and instead offer each other a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear. There’s no time to start like today (and while you’re at it, check out the show!)
M.Y. October 2010
My First Graduates
August 1998 was an important month for me. This was when I took my first steps into a first grade classroom for my first day of teaching. When I was a child, all I wanted to be was a teacher. And now the moment was here. Twenty-four eager first graders sat wide eyed and looked at me, wondering what type of great things we would learn.
A seasoned teacher advised me “not to smile until Christmas”. She must not have known me very well, because I always smile. And, within 30 seconds on that first day of school, I flashed my smile, welcomed everyone to my classroom and said I was going to take them on amazing journey! I’ll never forget the moment where I looked up and everyone was quietly working. My room was quiet. 24 six-year-olds were silent. Then I realized, I hate complete silence. So, I turned on some music with the volume very low.
My first year of teaching was fantastic. My students were brilliant both academically and with their extra activities. They made me laugh. They cared about each other. We were a community. I missed them over Christmas break. At the end of the year, I was so proud of their success that I moved up with them and taught them again for second grade.
This was 12 years ago. Now, my first group of first graders is graduating from high school. My babies are grown! I searched for some of them on Facebook to see what their future holds. Many of them still looked similar (with the exception of body parts and facial hairs not normally found of six-year-old kids). The interesting thing was the path of many of them, were characteristics I noticed back then. Juanita Araque was an amazing dancer. We even watched her as Clara in the Nutcracker. She is now working with a professional ballet company and following her passion. Braea Tilford was a social butterfly. She’s graduating from Central High and was a cheerleader and Homecoming Queen. Joey Coombs was very smart at solving problems. He’ll be attending UK to major in business marketing. Bethany Welch was one of the smartest students I had ever met. She had just moved with her family from South Africa and I was just proud to be her teacher. She’ll be attending UL and studying cultural anthropology.
And the list goes on and on. I am just as proud of them now and I was twelve years ago. Back then, boys and girls didn’t like each other more than just friends. Now, they all have their prom pictures with “the love of their life”. (If only they knew it’ll be more like “love of the next couple of weeks”!) Although I’m still the only person that looks the same as in 1998, I feel as if they have the same spirit, love and drive that helped us all survive those two years together. I’m excited to follow them over the next decade and although it was a long time ago, I hope I made some type of difference in their lives.
M.Y. May 2010
I have a secret to tell you (it’s between you and me – please don’t share it with anyone else). As you know, my last name is Yeager. Since the beginning of time, I have grown accustomed to being at the end. In school, my desk was the very last desk in the last row. When registering for conferences, my name tag was last. There was no need to flip through pages when voting, just go to the last page. I became kinda territorial over my last name and placement in line. I HAD TO BE LAST! There was no pride in being 3rd, 4th or 5th from the bottom. I hated going somewhere and there being a Greg Zitak or a Rose Young.
Toward the end of my junior year in high school, I realized that I would not graduate last from my class all because of guy named Marc Zorio. How dare he! Who does he think he is? I was hurt. My future graduation day would be ruined. I had to do something. I didn’t know the guy, so I didn’t want to bring him any harm. He made it this far so I doubt he would fail his senior year. Although graduation was a year away I had to devise a plan. So what did I do? I ran for Senior Class President!! Why, you ask? Because the Sr. Class President gets to receive the first diploma and graduate first!!!! For my election speech I talked about bringing the class together for our most memorable yet and how I was fully dedicated.
I did become Sr. Class President and did actually enjoy the position….. but most importantly I walked with my head held high at the front of my class as I lead the procession of Waggener High School’s Class of 1994!
M.Y. July 2007