Stories of Kindness from Around the World

A unforgettable dance student and gifts we give and receive

--by aprylrenee, posted Mar 4, 2015
As a graduate student, I picked up a job as a dance instructor at a community college. It was my first legit teaching job. My second semester there, I had a mother and daughter enroll in my jazz class.

The daughter had a mild case of cerebral palsy and was on a pharmaceutical cocktail to help her. Some of the medication was for her medical condition. Some was psychopharmaceuticals to deal with the side of effects of the medication for her medical condition. She dealt with a lot of anxiety and sleeping difficulties. Her mother attended the jazz class as her care giver and to assist her with her special needs.

The daughter was a delightful young woman in her early twenties and she was in a special programme that was set to help her gain her independence and live on her own. So she often missed my class but this was understood at the beginning of the semester and I worked with it.

When she attended class, both mother and daughter arrived shortly after I did, usually while I was warming up and reviewing my lesson plan. The daughter would often chat with me and show me how hard she had been practicing. Because of the cerebral palsy, her movement was limited but she gave her heart and I really admired that.

Around half term, her mother came in to turn in a paper for her and tell me her daughter was unable to attend due some type of placement test. Then she told me that her daughter's medication had been reduced, she was sleeping better and her anxiety lessened. The mother continued to say she thought it my teaching that did this. I was really touched by this.

Then at the end of the semester, her mother came in to turn in a final paper and again to say that her daughter would not be attending for similar reasons. She also had a gift to give me from her daughter.

The mother went on to thank me for my patience with her daughter and said that she worried that her daughter pestered me when I was trying to warm up. I said, that her daughter was delightful person and her enthusiasm reminded me of why I fell in love with dance as a child.

Her mother began to cry. I think I was on the verge of crying myself and gave her a hug. To this day, I have that little teddy bear her daughter gave me. When I've had a rough day teaching, all I have to do is look at it to remind myself of why I fell in love with dance and then teaching it.
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Readers Comments

carolec wrote: The amazing power of a teddy bear to connect you to the memory of your student and your younger self. Love it!
sandyremillar wrote: Very touching story! You are a lovely kind person and helped this family beyond your thoughts. Bless you!
heidibig wrote: What a great post, not just about dance, but about making someone feel great about your class and about themselves. Can't do better than that!
tinaturn wrote: I used to work doing Immigration work for International students and I still have the various gifts that students gave me from their home countries. I treasure them, because they chose to give them to me and 9 times out of 10, it was a thank you for the help I had given them. I know now that I touched their lives, but they touched my life in very profound ways as well. The world is a small place when you take the time to talk with one another!
aprylrenee wrote: Heidi, thank you! It was my first indication that it was my calling so to speak. And Tina so true. The work is reciprocal. You can't help but grow from it.

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