If you’re here for one of my sassy sarcastic posts, you’re going to be disappointed. I am not usually sappy, but I’m about to be. Normally if I post about football, it’s to call out behavior I consider shameful, but not today. When the Morrilton Devil Dogs won the Arkansas 5A State Football Championship yesterday, I saw football bring out the best in people. Celebration puts it mildly; what I saw was pure joy, and that deserves some reflection.
I feel like I experienced yesterday from a variety of perspectives: I am a citizen of Morrilton, I am Devil Dog Alumni, I am the child of SCCSD employees, I am the sister and wife of former Devil Dog football players, I’m the parent of two future Devil Dogs, I am a friend/family of the players/cheerleaders/band/students…the connections in Morrilton could go on and on. My children got to witness hometown history right in front of their eyes, my brother and my husband got to see a group of guys seal a deal they didn’t seal themselves, several friends got to watch their sons on the happiest day of their lives to date. Everyone in town feels ownership, but I had a teacher moment yesterday. And that is what I want to write about.
Many accomplishments can make a teacher proud: Seeing a student turn in an assignment you figured was a guaranteed zero, watching kids who had the odds stacked against them grab that diploma, having them become college graduates/published writers/accomplished teachers themselves, running into them with their spouses and children and seeing how normal they’ve become when at times you weren’t so sure if that was possible. Teachers feel a responsibility for their students far beyond the classroom. But all these things happen kind of behind the scenes. When a student passes my class, it makes the two of us happy (and sometimes relieved). When they graduate, they’re meeting the goal that their families and the school district set for them. When they get jobs and have families, I am glad they’ve done well. But yesterday was different somehow.
Yesterday’s win doesn’t happen every day or every year. It was, for me, so much more than a football victory. It was the first time in my career that I got to actually watch as my students’ dreams came true. I got to be present for the exact second they knew they had met their goal and see the looks on their faces as they felt the joy of success and accomplishment. It was powerful. I am not a crier(I think I have only happy-cried three other times in my life), but I stood, and I watched those kids, and I cried.
I have never been prouder to be from here, to be “always a Devil Dog,” and to teach at Morrilton High School. I can’t imagine being much more excited even if my own child had been on that field. I am so proud, as is the whole town, and it is a joy to have taught the ones who made it possible. I cannot wait to get to school tomorrow.
A former student who I’ve kept in touch with tweeted this after the game:
I’m not sure if she meant it to be about me or not (she was sitting behind me in my emotional moment), but it’s true. Aaaaaand apparently who I really am is a gigantic crybaby. But it was SO worth it.
Not all of my students will win a state championship, but I will always remember the way I felt yesterday, and it will be a reminder of why I stayed in Morrilton and why I teach. Even though I don’t always get to watch, my kids’ successes are mine too.