Years ago I had a student named Stacy.  Stacy was a quirky loaner who had trouble navigating the high school social system.  One day she came to me and said, “I’ve decided to change my name.  From now on, I would like you to call me Lucky.”

I hesitated to do as she asked.  After all, if I called her Lucky in front of the class, students would make fun of her.  Then again, kids were making fun of Stacy long before she proclaimed herself Lucky, so I granted her request for the rest of the year.

Months later she approached me.  “I asked all my teachers to change my name,” she said.  “But you were the only one who actually did.”

“Well,” I said.  “I think each of us has the right to define ourselves however we want, and you helped remind me of that.”

Perhaps defining and redefining ourselves as we see fit is what makes us all lucky!


not at a school-sponsored event

I am not currently teaching, but I taught high school Speech and English classes for nine years.  As a senior, Charlie was handsome, funny, and athletic, the high school trifecta for popularity.  On the last day of school he swung by my classroom to say goodbye.

“Do you remember me as a freshman?” he asked.

“No,” I said.   “I don’t think I had you as a student until your sophomore year.”

“Right, but we had a conversation at a dance my freshman year.”

I ran the leadership program and chaperoned many dances.  Freak Dancing, otherwise known as grinding, was, and I am sure still is, the dance of choice for Generation Next.

“I was dancing with Sara B.,” he continued with a smile.  “You came around and threatened to kick us off the dance floor.”

“Hmm,” I nodded.  Frankly, I kicked a lot of kids off the dance floor; it was one of the fun perks of the job.

“When you came around a second time, we were still dancing.  You approached us and in your booming, teacher voice you yelled, ‘you cannot rub your penis on a girl at a school-sponsored event!’”

I inhaled loudly, feigning shock and surprise.  “I saaaaaid that?”

Charlie nodded.

“Well, did you stop?” I asked.

“Yes,” he laughed.  “It was totally embarrassing.”

“Well then I have taught you life’s three most important lessons:  how to use a semi-colon, how to prepare a speech, and not to rub your penis on a girl in public.  I believe you are ready to graduate, Grasshopper!”