Image Credit: Yarely Chavez

PAES Teacher Affirmed by Stranger

It was nearing the end of a long day at Portland Adventist Elementary School, with more long days looming ahead. The weeks leading up to Christmas break always seem the longest of the school year.

Yarely Chavez, PAES fifth-grade teacher, stood in the checkout line with her 11-year-old daughter discussing where they still needed to stop before finally heading home. Her cart was full of supplies for her class’s Christmas craft and other activities, but there was still more to buy.

As they moved forward in line, the two older women ahead of them began to ask her questions. They wondered where Chavez taught and what activities all the supplies were for. As the line scooted forward once again, it was time for the ladies to gather their things and go. One of them stepped closer and thanked Chavez profusely for her service as a teacher and for everything she does for the students.

As she spoke, she reached out and took Chavez’s hand; Chavez was suddenly distinctly aware that now she was holding something — $100! Chavez assured the woman she couldn’t take the money, but the woman wouldn’t hear of it. Her next words caused Chavez to choke back tears. “You look like someone who is always helping other people out. Now it’s your turn to be blessed," she said before she turned and walked away.

What a gift it is to be seen by a stranger — to be blessed with not just monetary gifts, but to be acknowledged for the hard work and emotional investment that teachers pour into their students day after day. Isn’t this what we want to provide for our students as well?

We want to acknowledge their ability to show up and affirm their efforts. We want to show them we see them for who they are and not only for what they do. We want to assure them that not only does Jesus love and care about them, but we do too.

What a blessing to be able to do this daily. Teaching may be exhausting at times, but the rewards cannot be measured.

Featured in: March/April 2024