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I Do Not Need To Graduate

In-School Tutoring Paid Off

By Christine Sokalski, high school teacher, New Kensington, Pennsylvania

Brian (not his real name) was a bit of rebel with long hair and an "I don't need to graduate" attitude. He was lucky to have a mother who worked as a school district secretary and forced him to attend.

I had a very small classroom at the time to which seniors in need were sent for tutoring. Brian was one of them. He and I got along, and I pushed him to succeed. I didn't consider my work with him any more special than with others until a letter came to me about two years after Brian graduated.

He had joined the Navy and married a woman from England. The letter also said his wife was pregnant with a girl and they were naming her after me. He credited me with helping him graduate and become successful. I was very touched.

I cried even more, 10 years after the letter, when his mother called to tell me that Brian had become an officer and had visited her in Florida. He explained (to his mom) how he had planned to quit school, but I inspired him to finish. His mother then sent me a photo of my namesake and I got to see a beautiful young lady named after me!

It's a memory I keep in my heart for those school days when I feel like a truck has run over me and that I may have gone nowhere in eight hours. To have contributed to even one successful life after 33 years of teaching makes me feel worthwhile, no matter what.    

About the Author
Christine Sokalski teaches at Valley High School in New Kensington, Pennsylvania.