One of the perks of being a teacher is when former students come back to visit you, and you get to see the person they have become.
A few years ago, I had a student named Matt. Matt didn't care much about school, and he definitely didn't care about Chemistry, but he and I got along. I watched Matt make some poor decisions about friends and make other poor decisions. His mom works with me, and she and I would talk about the kind of person we knew he had the potential to become. We knew that if Matt got his head on straight, he could do great things.
At the start of the school year, I ran into Matt's mom, and she told me that he joined the Marines. As any proud Mom does, she pulled out pictures of Matt. I could barely recognize the young man in the pictures. A few weeks ago, Matt's mom asked me if I would be interested in writing to Matt if she gave me his address. I told her I would love to. Then she told me that Matt would be on leave and wondered if he could stop in and see me. I told her that would be awesome.
Yesterday, I was walking to an office to pick up the paper I had printed out, and I saw Matt's mom walking with a tall, thin, young man. It was Matt. I barely recognized him. I greeted him with a hug, and told him how proud I was of him, and then something happened that took me by surprise. I started to cry, because I was so happy to see that he turned his life around, and had become the young man that I always knew he could be.
Matt, I'm so proud of you! Thank you for serving our country!