It started with a scuffle in the dance room, one teacher randomly walking in on several students with their voices elevated. The teacher tried to verbally break it up and move the students along, but the students start moving toward each other as the confrontation escalated. The teacher, moving to the middle, tried to direct one screaming student out the opposite door, but words turned to threats, and the student came back toward the group. The teacher found herself blocking the student against the wall to avoid a physical conflict. The student kept pushing, the teacher, resisting. The teacher, still holding her cup, put it on a ledge when the student started pushing harder to reach the other student. The cup fell, smashing on the floor. The bell rang, and the students dispersed as quickly as they came.
The cup, a gift from the teacher’s sister in New York City, represented a connection that was now broken. Surprised by the conflict and the broken cup, the teacher started to cry. One student stopped and helped her pick up the broken cup, neither knowing the other as they went their separate ways. But the cup was not forgotten. The student decided to make a replacement cup for the teacher in ceramics class, but she didn’t know who the teacher was, so she couldn’t deliver the cup. The student finally saw the teacher in the hallway two months later and told her she made the cup for her. Again their ways part. Four months after the scuffle, the teacher walked into her office to find a cup — a handmade cup — with a note attached: “I made this cup to replace the one that got broken. Signed, Tierra.”
As an educator it amazes me what connects people. What small acts of kindness mean to another and what hope and encouragement they can bring. It reminds me to continue to believe that each of us can impact a stranger with a kind word, a gesture — a cup! Thank you, Tierra Bryant, for your kindness and my new cup. I will cherish it always! Signed, The teacher.