When I was in high school I had the wonderful privilege of studying Latin for 4 years under an extraordinary teacher, Ms. Carol Rothstein. She made you work hard for your good grades, but you ended up really enjoying what you were learning. I have such a better understanding of words and language after taking her classes. I believe that she was part of the reason I decided to study English and become a teacher.
But she wasn't just a teacher, she was also a great mentor and friend. She helped many students with things outside of Latin class. You could talk to her about your problems and she would listen without a judgmental ear. And her advice was sound, no doubt about that. I only hoped that one day, I could have a least have part of the ability she possessed to be such a great mentor. Sadly, she died of cancer in November 2008.
I wish she could have seen what happened with one of my students just recently. One of my favorite students came to me to confide a personal issue that was really upsetting her. I can remember being that same age, and how even the smallest things would be really important to me. As she poured out her thoughts and worries, I couldn't help but imagine myself in the same position, about 12 years earlier, but with Ms. Rothstein listening instead.
After my student concluded, I took a seat next to her and told her the very same things I had been advised before. I felt a little like someone was there, helping me help this young girl, and I was grateful. So was my student, as I assuaged her fears. She thanked me for listening and helping her, while throwing her arms around me and giving me a big hug. It was good to see a familiar smile spread across her face once again.
In that moment, I felt like the mentor I had wanted to be. Ms. Rothstein would have been proud.