3 Back to School Goals for Your Kids

back to school goals

back to school goalsBack-to-school goals

Back- to- school goals are important, but which are most important?

Each year, we have a Back 2 School night for our kids at church. It’s a fun time, and the kids get to choose items for their school year. This year, Dave shared a five-minute devotional, and I’m going to share it with you.

Jesus was a child, and as He grew, there were three things mentioned about Him as a teenager. These should be the school goals we have for our kids as well.

Luke tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and man.

back to school goals Wisdom

Wisdom is listed first. A person who has wisdom sees life from God’s perspective. Our kids are not born with this ability (and neither are we). Yet, one of our goals should be to help our kids see life the way God sees life. This makes a person less selfish and more willing to reach out to others. Wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment. We help our children gain wisdom by not withholding life experiences from them. They learn wisdom by obtaining knowledge and learning to make good judgments. We help them when we model good judgment ourselves and when we encourage them to think through their rationale for making decisions and choices. As parents, one of our back- to- school goals should be to help our kids learn wisdom.

back to school goalsStature

We grow in size. Our feet need larger shoes; our waistlines expand. The inseam of our kids’ jeans gets longer and longer. Our kids grow. As parents, one of our back- to- school goals is to help our kids grow in stature. This includes good nutrition, plenty of exercise, and sufficient sleep for their age and size. They need our help to achieve these goals. It’s a rare child who will put himself to bed at an appropriate time if his parents don’t give him a deadline.

We help our kids grow by providing what they need to maintain good health, an alert mental state, and physical endurance. That’s our job, not theirs. As parents, we need to help our kids grow in stature.

back to school goalsFavor with God and man

When a person has the favor of God and the favor of man, he is blessed. Achieving this mark should be another of our back-to- school goals for our kids.

We encourage them to find favor with God by helping them have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Through daily conversations, (hopefully) family devotions, and time spent alone with God, our kids will grow in their knowledge and understanding of Christ.

When this happens, their character will develop and flourish and they will obtain favor not only with God, but with man. A child who develops integrity of character at an early age will carry that with him throughout his life. He will become more liked by his classmates and teachers alike.

We will know, and our kids will know, whether or not we are achieving the goal. We will know whether or not they (and we) are growing in favor with God and man.

Let these three back-to-school goals help you this next year as you make decisions about your kids. Will this activity, this event, this friendship help your child grow in one or more of these three areas?  If the answer is yes, you’ll know what to do. If it is no, you’ll also know what to do.

Do what is best for your kids. Help them achieve these three goals: grow in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and man.

back to school goals


5 Back-2-School Tips for Parents

Back 2 school tips

Back 2 school tipsAnother back-2-school

I remember those days, wishing I knew the best back-2-school tips out there so I could be a better school mom: standing at the end of the driveway with my kids after the back-to-school photos are taken. Waiting for the bus. Waiting some more. Suddenly, the bus is there, and my kids walk across the road to the other side.

I see the tops of their heads rising as they step up into the bus, their faces looking out the window at me. Some of them wave. Some act like they do not know I am here.

Then they are off. Hurried away by drivers whose intent it is to get these kids safely to the school, on time. I head back to my so-quiet house and inhale the quiet. I don’t want to move, so I sit in my recliner, drink my coffee, think, and plan, and pray.


Every year, I thought we’d get it together and have a better year than the last. Every year, we struggled with  the mundane of the rhythm of school. Sometimes we did better than other times.

back-2-school tipsA few back 2 school tips

To you moms out there facing another year of school, here are some thoughts from the other side of the school bus and the other side of sending kids to school.

  • Start strong. Stick with schedules for homework and bedtime and getting-up time. Don’t try to ease into it, for that does not work. Figure out what works for you. We did all our school prep the evening before. My kids knew not to ask for help finding a library book in the morning. Your family might function better in the morning. If so, give yourself time to find that missing library book in the morning. Figure out what schedule works for you, then stick with it. This is part of preparing your kids for the real world.
  • Stay tuned. Remember that your job is to prepare your kids for life. This means you provide protection (physical, emotional, and spiritual). Stay alert and in tune with your kids. Pay attention to body language when they arrive home from school. Watch the light in their eyes. If it disappears, find out why. What are they not telling you? Learn to listen with your eyes and with the back side of your ears; for if you pay attention, you’ll pick up on things when they talk with siblings or friends. This is part of preparing your kids for dealing with life’s turmoils.
  • Stay away. Do not hover over your child. Do not do homework for your kids. Certainly, you should visit their school, just don’t wear out your welcome. Do not defend your child when he is wrong; don’t make excuses for him. Allow him to suffer consequences (a failed test grade because he did not study) instead of going to bat for him and expecting the grade to be altered because you complained. This is part of preparing your kids for life.
  • Stay involved. Be positive toward your child’s school and teacher. Express appreciation – verbally and in hand-written notes. Volunteer to help on field trips or provide items needed for the classroom. Your child’s teacher will be willing to hear your concerns if you’re intentionally involved and helpful for events. This is how you model good work ethic, thus preparing your kids for life.
  • Finish strong. Don’t quit; don’t give up. You are preparing your kids for life. Starting strong is good; staying strong is better; and finishing strong is best! Keep your eyes on the goal:
    • equipping your kids with a good education so they can face any upheaval in their future.
    • developing character qualities in your kids that will sustain them (integrity, kindness, responsibility, honesty, diligence, and patience.)
    • finishing a course that is begun well; not copping out when things get hard; not asking for favors and privileges your child does not deserve.

Final on back-2-school tips

What is your goal for your kids for this school year? Is it just to get ‘er done, or are you using this opportunity to help your kids learn how to live life best? Use these 5 tips to help you stay the course. Evaluate your goals throughout the year. Keep those goals in focus when you make decisions for and with your kids. It will help you have the best year yet!

back-2-school tips

Another post about Back 2 School can be found on my blog by clicking here.

Photo credits: pixabay.com

10 Back 2 School Tips: Making It the Best Year Yet

Back 2 school tips

school bus 2

Back 2 School

Back 2 school time is here. No matter where you choose to educate your kids, there are things you should and should not do. Here are 10 helpful tips to get you started as your kids head back to school. I truly wish you the best school year yet!

Many parents choose alternatives to public school. There are parents who send their kids to a private school or a Christian school, and there are parents who choose to homeschool. No matter where they are educated, it’s important that we teach and model integrity and an attitude of “doing your very best” in their school days.

Even though we chose to have our kids in public school, this blog post isn’t saying you’re doing it wrong if you choose a different approach. A few years back I had a friend who shared with me that their schooling journey with their three children changed year by year.

“We take it year by year, and child by child,” she explained.

That particular year, she was homeschooling one child, one child was in a Christian school, and the third was in a public school. She explained their reasons, and they made sense to me.

Please don’t criticize someone else’s approach. If you think they’re wrong, pray for them. Remember to pray for your own kids as well.

Preemptive Tips

Back 2 school is not just for students. It’s also for the parents. Some of you might think I’ve gone “from preaching to meddling,” but here goes.

“I wonder who is going to be my teacher this year!” This sentiment was often heard in our house the last weeks before the beginning of school. No matter if a child had a single teacher or a group of teachers, the concern was always Who.

One afternoon a kindergarten teacher said to me, “I’ve been teaching in this school for years, and I’ve never gotten to have one of your kids. I don’t understand why.”

Our youngest was entering kindergarten, and it was her “last chance” at having one of those Slabach kids. It seemed she thought perhaps we had requested specific teachers for our children.

While I was flattered that she wanted to have one of our kids in her classroom, I also knew that she might have found out our kids weren’t as perfect as others seemed to think they were.

The thought that we would have requested specific teachers for our kids stymied me. We didn’t. The only thing we did was pray, and I told her so.

Principles to follow for back 2 school

We would have to have a biblical reason for requesting – or requesting to not have – specific teachers for our kids. I’m here to tell you that, depending on in whose classroom our kids might have ended, we’d have gone to bat. It’s something we never needed to do.

Over the course of our kids’ education, we’ve been through over 250 teachers from grades K-12. I learned to get a quick feel of things from our visits during an open house.

I recognize that school systems are different in different counties and regions. No matter where your kids are in school (whether public, private, or homeschool), there are some principles to consider. Implementing these will go a long way in helping your child (and you) have a successful school year.kids colors in chain

10 Back 2 school tips

  1. Be positive where you can be. How many notes of appreciation do you write to your children’s teachers? Start at the beginning of the year and let the teachers know you have their backs. Give your support where you can, and be appreciative of the efforts of your child’s teacher. Then if you ever have a complaint, the teacher will be more ready to listen because you’ve been positive earlier.
  2. Don’t let the classroom activities (or teacher) negate what you teach at home. Let your child’s teacher know that, even though you might not be on the same page as he/she is, there are some things you expect: that what is taught in his/her classroom will not negate what you are teaching your children at home. Meet with the teacher ahead of time if you think it is necessary. You might be surprised at how receptive he will be to your concerns.
  3. Listen to the teacher’s side of the story. Let your child’s teacher know that you expect to be informed if your child has negative behavior. “If he’s in trouble in school, he’s in trouble at home” should be your philosophy. This doesn’t mean that you will discipline your child for anything the teacher reports to you without investigating. It does mean that you’ll be hearing both sides of the story and take action accordingly.
  4. Listen to your child’s side of the story. Let your child know “If you’re in trouble in school, you’ll be in trouble at home.” Your child will know that this isn’t blanket insurance for the teacher. If your child knows that you’ll be contacting the teacher to get his/her side of the story, he will be less likely to embellish what actually happened in the classroom.

Personal instances

 I recall on one occasion when a child came home and gave me a long story about something that had happened in the classroom that day (regarding his excuse for poor behavior). I replied, “Well, after I call the teacher and hear what she says, I’ll talk to your father and then we’ll go from there.”

“Oh that’s all right, Mama,” the child replied. “You don’t need to call her.”

Another time we received a call from the school regarding an incident with our child. When we researched the situation (hearing both sides from our child and the adults involved) my husband made an appointment with the school. After meeting with those involved, it became clear that an injustice had been done in how things were documented, and an apology came forth from the adult who brought the charges. Even though Dave was frustrated with what happened, his attitude toward the adults was respectful and kind. What happened had no negative effect on our child’s school file. We recognize that educators are not immune to making mistakes, and we needed to show grace because we’ve often needed it ourselves!

5. Your child does not need to participate in everything. “Everybody is participating” is not a reason for your child to participate. You have the right to withdraw your child from activities that you feel are not supportive of the principles you are teaching at home.

Truthfully, it seems like it’s easier to do that in a public school than a private (especially a Christian) school.  There is less stigma toward a child who doesn’t participate because ethnic and religious backgrounds are so varied that teachers aren’t surprised when a child isn’t allowed to participate. When public school administrators know your positions, they expect you to be different and are not surprised when there are activities in which you do not want your child to participate.

6. Discuss concerns with the teacher before an event. If you have concerns about specific holidays, school productions, or a field trip, talk to the teacher ahead of time. Your children don’t need to attend a Halloween party. They can be excused from art activities (and you’d be surprised at the number of children who, from various religions, are excluded from some of these activities). If your child comes home and is disgusted that another child can’t participate in such activities as Mother’s Day (yes, it happened in our school), be supportive of those parents and that child. Your kid will learn quickly whether or not you think your reasons are good enough to be exempt, but other parents’ reasons are not.

7. Volunteer. Offer to help at the school. There is bound to be something you can do, even if you do it from home. I’ve helped cut out patterns for activities, baked cookies, provided pizza, and sweated ferociously on field day.  Maybe you don’t want to provide snacks for a Halloween party, but are you willing to do it for a Valentine’s party?  Can you volunteer on a field trip?  I was always amazed at the things I learned about my child and her classmates just by spending a few hours as a volunteer in her classroom.

On one field trip, I was paired with four other boys plus my own son.  By the end of the day, I figured out why.  I had been assigned some of the most unruly boys while other parents had one other child besides their own.  Not this mom. I knew I was in trouble when my fifth grader said to me that morning after I received my assignment, “It’s okay, Mama.  I don’t think they’ll be too bad.” I could have complained to the teacher and refused to be responsible for those boys – but what would have been my purpose?  All of us survived, and some of those boys still seem happy to see me if I run into them in town.

8. You are not the teacher or the administrator. You really aren’t! Your husband might be on the school board, but that doesn’t give you license to manipulate, nor does it give your child special privileges. No teacher should turn his back on your child’s behavior just because of who his father or grandfather are.  Nor should they  curve a grade because of who a child is, but it happens all the time. If we start down that road, we’re teaching our kids that it’s okay to get privileges for things we don’t deserve. Is that really what we want for our kids? Before long, they will undermine our authority because they are copying us.

Your child failed a test or didn’t get a good grade on a project? That’s no need to go to bat for him. Consider whether or not his work deserved a better grade. You can suggest he ask his teacher if there is anything he can do to help bring up his grade, but don’t be the one to ask the teacher. He needs to take that responsibility. Having a parent in the school system or on the school board is no reason for the adult to try to fix a problem his child created from lack ofr studying, laziness, or sloppiness.

Our kids don’t need us to fix things or to fight their battles. Most kids wouldn’t think of it on their own. When they  maneuver in order to get a better grade, it’s fairly certain they learned from watching someone else. Our children need us to model righteous living, and neither finagling nor manipulation is a righteous way to live. They need us to be in their corner, but they don’t need us to be their corner!

  1. Your child must learn to fight his own battles.  That’s a tough one, but he will only learn when we push him into the fray with advice, support, and encouragement. Start fresh this year on his first day back 2 school.

More instances

I remember the day I told my husband, “If you don’t do something about this, I will!”  I thought a situation in our child’s classroom was out of control. He was frustrated with his teacher. Every day, our child came home from school, slammed the door, and ran up to his room. I realized later that my sympathy wasn’t helping him at all; it merely fueled his frustration. If it were up to me, I would already be down at the school, setting that teacher straight, but my husband chose to take a biblical approach.

“If we fight this battle for him, he won’t learn how to do it right,” he told me.

Dave sat down with our son and asked him to verbalize his frustrations. Then he explained to him that the biblical way to correct the problem was for the student to talk to the teacher and explain his frustration. Dave helped him think about how the teacher might feel to have a student come instead of the parent. He suggested that, when there is a problem or a complaint, we must be able to also present a possible solution.  Our third grade son came up with ideas that he thought would work. He went to school the next day with a plan: ask the teacher if  he could talk to her alone; meet with her alone and compliment her on the things she was doing right (from his perspective) in the classroom,  share his frustration and, if she asked for suggestions, be prepared to give those suggestions respectfully.

We stayed out of the school, and we prayed. Oh my goodness. I stormed the gates of Heaven that day because I wanted to protect my kid. God came through without my help. Our kid got off the bus that day, and I knew instantly that things were okay. Imagine that.

“When he came back from PE, she had changed the seating around and put up the new consequences for us.  Things are better already,” he told me.

The clincher for me was when he said, “I am so glad Papa told me to talk to her by myself first. It was much better this way.”

So yeah, all hovering mamas out there: sometimes you just need to help your child figure out the problem and a plan, then back off and pray. It’s okay if you cry a little, but he doesn’t need to see your tears. How do I know? I’ve been there.

10.  No matter where your kids are in school, they need your prayers. No matter how much we try to protect and prepare them, life is going to hand them curve balls.  Your home might not have pornographic material, but they’ll see it in town and in the library. No matter where your child goes to school, the temptation is real to fudge, cheat, lie, or get in with the wrong crowd. Ask God to make sure your child gets caught if they’re doing something wrong.

Our group of moms enjoyed a hearty laugh the morning a mom told us her story. As moms of kids in our county, we met weekly to pray for our kids. We specifically prayed that our kids would get caught if they were dishonoring God. This mom got up that morning and went to her desk. There, right on top of a pile of papers was a test. The failing grade required a signature from the parent. Her signature was there all right, but she did not sign the paper. Her son forged her name and inadvertently left the test at home. Why be surprised that he got caught when we prayed?! And yes, we thanked God for answering that prayer. Pray for your child and for his teacher. Pray for his classmates, especially the ones who are having a hard time in school.

school sign


Back to school and back to God

As Christians, the way we live and the way we do school with our kids should reflect that we love Jesus. He wants to use our hands, our feet, and our hearts. Ask God to show you how you can be a healer to children in the classroom who come from hurting homes. Get in there. Stay involved. Pray as you go.

As another school year approaches, go ahead and implement these 10 principles. If it seems overwhelming, choose a few to focus on at first, and then add to your list. You’ll be well on your way  to a successful school year.

pinterest Back 2 school

This post is revised from one on this blog six years ago. The same concerns still weigh on parents’ minds, but these tips will help guarantee a good school year!

Giving Your Kid What is Best – Even When It Hurts

Giving What is Best Can be Painful.

As hard as it is, if our love is real, we’ll give our kids what is best  – even when it hurts. In the throes of raising kids, sometimes it’s just plain hard to keep that goal in mind. It’s hard to focus on where I want my child to be then when it’s so painful now.

The little girl in this story is now grown and working full time. She will complete her Master’s degree in a few months. Today I applaud the many teachers of Halifax County Public Schools who were involved in her life (and the lives of all of our kids) and who supported us in the way we raised our kids. This story was first published in The Southside Banner. It is also in the book Southside Glimmers.

Giving what is best in the trenches

Loving in the Trenches

trenches NOTE


I found the note one day this summer.

“I am runing away. Srrey.” my almost-seven year old had written.

She must have changed her mind — or else she’d left and decided to come back before I found the note. When I went to look for her, she was riding her bike in the yard.

This wasn’t the first time she’d declared her independence from us. When she was four, she moved in with an aunt and her family—and stayed there one day for each year of her life.

“I am tired of you bossing me around,” she said.

She didn’t want to brush her teeth or comb her hair. She saw no need to make her bed or pick up her toys.

“I don’t want to be your little girl anymore,” she informed me one day after another battle of the will.

Oh, but she did. She just didn’t know it—yet.

For several days, she insisted she wanted to live somewhere else. In exasperation one day, I told her to choose a place to live.

She did.

The folks she chose agreed to let her move in with them. I helped her pack her bag.

We read The Runaway Bunny together, more than once, by her request. I told her I was just like the mama in the story. She could go away, but she would always be my little girl.  I would always love her, no matter what she did.

That evening, we sent her on her way.

Did I cry? Has it rained this July? Did I pray? Does night come before day?

She gets it honestly, I suppose. Her father tried that number once as a little chap. He informed his mom that he was leaving because she was too mean. His wise mom called his bluff. She packed his clothes and put him on the porch. Then she closed the door and cried.

What will I do if he actually leaves? She wondered.

I know she prayed. He didn’t get far that night before he decided to come back.

“If it hadn’t been dark, I’d probably have been gone,” he says today.

So when his littlest princess decided she didn’t want to be bossed, he took it in stride. He knew she’d be back.

We trusted his sister to support us in raising our child.  There’d be none of the usual frills of a sleepover at Aunt Ruth’s house this time.

The other kids didn’t seem to mind her being gone.  Normally, I wouldn’t have, either. In fact, on the days our little tornado is gone from home, there is less “stuff and mess” to deal with than when she’s here.

But now I missed the mess — because of what its absence meant.

Eventually, she decided she wanted to come back. She was too proud to admit it by herself.

So a friend helped her find the words to say that she wanted to come home.

I am grateful for my friend Sue and our child’s Aunt Ruth.  They supported us and loved her as well.

She came home one afternoon and didn’t know quite how to act. Neither did we.

How could we show her the depth of our love? Rolling out the red carpet would have applauded her defiance. Ignoring her absence might have indicated a lack of care.

There was no “happily ever after” in our house. The battle lines remained drawn. She still had to make her bed and brush her teeth. She had to pick up her toys.

Less than twenty-four hours after her re-entrance into our lives, we had one of those “meet me in the bathroom” sessions. She asked for it. No, she begged for it as she deliberately poked her foot across forbidden lines, daring me to stand up to her. I couldn’t let her down. I don’t know that I’ve ever loved her more than behind that closed bathroom door.

Things I already knew became more real when I walked the trenches:

  • Real love releases others to make their own choices, even if those choices would not be mine.
  • True love does not smother and stifle.
  • Genuine love seeks the best for the other person.
  • Real love keeps giving and waiting, expecting and believing the best.
  • Genuine love allows the consequences of choices made to be experienced.

If I really believed it, I had to practice that love.

I found that note the other day, stuck in my files. It’s my reminder that true parenting involves releasing.

I’m still practicing releasing her, today.trenches school bus

In a few weeks, I’ll be standing at the driveway watching her board the bus for another year at school. I’ll be releasing her again, although in a different way.

There will be a lot of other moms who’ll stand at the edge of their safe place and watch their kids board that bus. For some of them, it’ll be the very first time.

Will they cry? Did it rain this July? Will they pray? Does night come before day?

To their teachers, and all the teachers out there in the trenches: please love our kids.

  • We’re trusting you with our most important possessions. When you love them, release them.
  • When they test the waters, don’t let them down.
  • When they step across the lines you’ve already drawn, meet them at that line and deliver the consequences.
  • Help us raise our kids by supporting what we believe.
  • Don’t try to be popular and roll out the red carpet for the kid who’s been excused from class.

trenches blackboard

There’s no “happily ever after in the home or in the classroom. In life’s classrooms, there’s no such thing as being fair in everyone’s eyes. Sure, I want my kid to get what he earns. I’ll be there, applauding and cheering for a job well done.

I may possibly think you’ve been unfair. While I might talk about it to you, he’ll never hear it from me. The sooner he learns that life isn’t fair, the better life will be for all of us.

If the day comes that my kids show disrespect or defiance, please let us know. We’re still old-fashioned enough to believe that “if you’re in trouble in school, you’re in trouble at home”.

I’d like to think he’s a better kid than anyone else’s, but I know better. It’s a myth to think that my child would never do something wrong or let me down. Look who he has for parents!

I’m not asking you to raise my kids for me. I’m asking that you not undo what we have done.

trenches children girls

I’m not asking you to be a part of a village that raises a child. I’m asking you to be a part of a community that doesn’t fix things or bail a kid out when he deserves to experience life’s consequences.

Together, we can make our world a better tomorrow. When you walk in the trenches, you’re willing to invest your heart in the lives of others.

When you really care about someone, you give ’em what is best— even if it hurts.









A Teacher’s Apology

own work

When school work was caught up, we were allowed to read or find another way to entertain ourselves. My classroom was one of four in the school. Our classroom housed about twenty-five students, grades four through six.

As was our practice, if something struck us as being funny, we’d push our chairs back and peer into our desks, trying to stifle our laughter. Rearranging one’s desk was a quick cure for laughter that threatened to spill out into the silent air. Plus, looking into a messy desk kept one from looking at the other students who were also laughing, which would only have heightened the problem.

Our teachers knew that our laughter was normally not from naughtiness and, on usual school days, a little laughter in fun was okay. Students also liked to hide what they were reading by using a textbook as a cover. That was easier to do if a child put the opened textbook on his lap, put a smaller library book on top, scooted his chair back just far enough that he could put his forehead on his desk, and read to his heart’s content. The teacher walking by noticed only the textbook on the lap and assumed her student was being studious.

I was guilty of doing that a few times, but most times, my schoolwork was done when I chose a library book for entertainment. Once my work was done, I’d pull out my latest reading material and block out the sounds of shuffling feet, pencil marks being erased, and quiet whispers of a teacher helping a student.


On this particular day, our teacher’s countenance was more dour than normal. We all sensed her mood and there seemed to be no explanation for it. Certainly, I didn’t think we were the problem, for no behavior problems had surfaced during the day. It’s possible she wasn’t feeling well herself; but whatever the reason, it was not apparent to the rest of us.

Putting my head on my desk and placing my book on my lap, I started reading. Page after page turned under my hands and I was oblivious to what was taking place in the room. Yet, even when a student feels oblivious, he still has a sense of what is happening.

That day was no different than others. I vaguely remembered stifled laughter of other students, but I was so engrossed in my book that I just kept on reading. Suddenly, the teacher spoke, reprimanding other students sitting near me. Apparently, their laughter made her feel that they were laughing at her. She scolded them, and they maintained their innocence.

Her voice penetrated through the words on my library book page.

“Then tell me why,” she demanded sharply, “is Gertrude sitting there with her head down?”

I lifted my head slowly, blinking my eyes at the brightness of the room.

“I’m reading,” I answered her truthfully.

Total silence reigned. The teacher dismissed the subject and class continued.

A few days later during a class discussion, my teacher spoke to all of us about her actions on that day.

“I need to apologize to you all,” she said, “and especially,” her eyes caught mine, “to you, Gertrude. I judged you harshly without getting my facts straight first. Will you forgive me?”

My respect for this teacher soared, and all was forgiven.

The apology eased the conscience of the teacher. More importantly, it modeled for me and for the entire classroom what it means to be authentic and real.