I'll share two other stories about my former students:
About ten years ago, I ran into Christina, who was touring All Children's Hospital (my subsequent employer) with the Junior League. I hadn't seen her in more than 20 years but recognized her immediately.
"Christina? Is that you?"
"Yes, Mr. Momberg. It's great to see you." She kept her eyes averted shyly.
"You don't have to call me Mr. Momberg anymore."
"Okay, Mr. Mom ... um ... "
"Call me Joel."
Well ... I gave up on the informalities and stuck with conversations about old times. I told her how proud I was of her accomplishments (she was in her medical residency). And bragged about how I knew at a young age she would be a success.
She started crying.
I said, "Christina, I didn't mean to upset you ..."
"No ... I ... I have to tell you something ... something terrible ... something that's been on my mind since sixth grade."
Oh no ... I braced myself. Did she have years of therapy after having me as a teacher? Did she need intense tutoring to relearn her basic academic skills?
I just stared ... I didn't have a clue ...
" You took us both out of class and asked us if we were cheating. I told you I wasn't cheating and Elizabeth too."
" Christina ... I ..."
" I WAS cheating ... I WAS cheating and I lied to you and you believed me."
" Christina ... it was 20 years ago ... I don't even remember."
" Oh my God ... you don't? I worried all these years for no reason???"
Amazing what you hang on to.
To all my beautiful former students who may be reading this ... I am so proud of all of you please stay in touch.