Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Wed, 6 Mar 1996 12:53:40 -0500 (EST)
Subject: A Random Thought: Kim, Teaching, And Gold Mining

Well, on this two month anniversary of Kim and me being "clean." I found lying matter-of-factly, almost camouflaged, amidst the cluttered land-fill of my desk a simple, hand-written letter Kim had written to me. I pick it up nonchalantly and started reading it. With every passing word, I realized this was a letter not to be read casually, and I slowed down. I stopped half way through, I took a deep breath, wiped away a tear or two, unwrapped a Tootsie Pop, and finished reading, grabbing at every word, through the haze of my glassy eyes. I must have re-read it two or three times. I don't think Kim would mind if share it with you:

	I am really glad that I made a promise to myself
	and to you to stop drinking because of the fact
	that it was really bad for my spirit and my 
	health.  I guess I just needed someone to care enough
	to get me to see what I wanted to see but didn't have 
	the courage to see.  No one in my immediate family drinks.  
	So, it was not anything I picked up at home.  I
	drank while in highschool.  That is when it started.
	Hanging around my friends and watching them drink 
	made me want to do it.  Well, now I know no one made me
	do anything.  I did it all to myself.  I just didn't want 
	to be left out of things and was afraid of being thought of 
	as a jerk.  I guess I just didn't that the confidence and 
	strength to take the chance of saying no.  I wasn't happy
	about it, but didn't think I could do anything about
	until you came along.
	I made the promise at first just to impress you, but when 
	you proudly showed me your nails after your first manicure 
	and bragged to everyone in the class that the dark purple 
	nail polish on your pinky was a sign of our deal I knew that
	you weren't bulling me but you were showimg everyone who you
	realy are.  So, I had to do the same.  I also saw that pinky 
	was a sign that you needed me as much as I needed you.  That 
	feeling of being needed and being something made me that I 
	was important and could do something for others.  I made me 
	feel good.  That's when I started doing it for myself.  

	Since my promise, I feel renewed and like a better person because 
	I have been clean since the start of the quarter and because I have 
	cleaned my spirit and attitude and body. I'm happier and more honest.
	I like being myself and being able to turn down drinks.  I feel 
	like people respect me more now that I have stopped drinking.  I 
	respect myself more.  That's more important I think.  I have found 
	out that I can handle my problems without the use of a drink and 
	that I don't need a drink to solve my problems which it doesn't 
	anyway.  I like that.  I used to only drink when something was 
	deeply on my mind or I was depressed.  I now have found out because 
	of our deal that there are other ways to have a good time.  

	I feel really GOOD knowing that I have many people, especially you 
	and the others in the class, backing me and believing in me.  But, 
	what really make me feel best is that I believe in myself now.  I 
	believe now that there's a lump of gold inside me to mine.  It 
	makes me wonder that if I have it in me to put a lid on the bottle 
	what lids can I open in myself.  I believe that if I can deal with 
	drinking there isn't anything I can't do here in school and every
	where else.  

	Thanks for caring and believing me and asking me each day if I was 
	clean.  You clean today?  Happy anniversary. 
As I dry my eyes, I look--stared is a better term--at my pinky nail, now painted with gold nail polish, and I feel a bit richer than when I got up this morning.

You know, Kim is right. The rich vein of human potential is never absent in anyone. It's there hidden deep, hidden sometimes under an uninviting surface, waiting to be brought upon into the light of day. Teaching, then, is the mining for gold and we teachers are the prospectors whose task is invite students to dig along side us as their own prospectors mining for their own pay dirt.

Imagine if we were all willing to go at a group of students or just one student the way a prospector goes at a mountainside with a pick and shovel, if we believed that everything will go our way regardless of what happens, if we didn't take a discouraging "no" to our dreams, if we weren't deterred by the unassuming and barrenenss of the terrain because we knew that deep within the rock of the students' being lay untold rich abunance of glittering potential.

I have discovered that if we mine students, and help students mine themselves, expecting to find a vein of gold, we both almost always will. Getting to that rich ore, however, isn't something that is done very easily. It takes sweat and effort and endurance. Progress can be slow. The way through the rock can be rocky. Sometimes you have to feel your way in the darkness; sometimes you have to delicately pick; sometimes you have to blast. The rubble has to hauled out. The tunnel has to be shored up. There's going to be the inevitable cave-ins. At times you're battling your aching body and your strained emotions as well as the rock. At times, you feel as if you can't go on. Nothing is guaranteed. Sometimes you'll take a wrong turn or your tools will break or you'll faced impenetrable hard rock or can't dig deep enough with the tools you've got.

But, if and when we get down to the bedrock of that student's human potential we strike it rich. And, I have discovered that once a student is aware of the pay dirt of talent inside him/herself, once a student is in touch with the wealth of the particular individuality of his or her own genius, once a student sees the brilliance of his or her selfhood, once a student starts mining the treasure of his or her own unique potential, the vein seldom peters out.

Make it a good day.


Louis Schmier  (912-333-5947)
Department of History                      /~\    /\ /\
Valdosta State University          /^\    /   \  /  /~ \     /~\__/\
Valdosta, Georgia 31698           /   \__/     \/  /     /\ /~      \
                            /\/\-/ /^\___\______\_______/__/_______/^\
                          -_~     /  "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\
                             _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -\____

Return to The Complete Random Thoughts of Louis Schmier
Return to the Random Thoughts of Louis Schmier
Return to Arbor Heights Elementary School