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Jim Delisle, Ph.D., has taught children for more than forty years. He posted one of his articles on Free Spirit Publishing. At the end of a school year with middle school students, he closed with this:

“We’ve shared a great year,” I began, “and even though I’ll see you again next year, you and I will never again be us. So, in parting, I have two questions I’d like you to answer:

1. What gives you hope?

2. What gives you joy?

Write quietly. You have ten minutes.”

I waited anxiously, wondering if I’d get cardboard drivel or tender prose. You decide. Here are some of their responses.

It gives me hope when . . .

• I see a friend succeeding in something I helped them with

. • I think of my parents still being alive when I am an adult.

• I see a very biased person change his mind.

• I see my mother going through so much and still being strong and never hanging her head in shame.

• I see that only a few girls have someone to dance with them.

• I see my grandmother and she still remembers who I am.

• I see that another meal is on the table.

• My mom says “see you later” instead of goodbye.

It gives me joy when . . .

• I make a baby laugh.

• I finish a good book and see the world from the eyes of a character in it.

• I feel the hot summer air and know that my season of freedom has just begun.

• People give me the kindness I deserve rather than treating me as if I am not popular.

• I read Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman.”

• I hear preschoolers singing their ABC’s.

• My brother gives me a ride to school happily, with no complaints.

• I wake up on a summer morning, greeted by the sun, and realize that this day has the potential to be the best one of my life.

As my students read their statements, one to the next, a hush even more powerful than the energy of a school year’s last day embraced us all. For one last time, we were together; we were a class. When the last statement was read, one of my students said, “Great ending, Mr. D.”

“No, Dan,” I corrected him, “A great beginning.”

What can you make of these words from children not so much older than your child? I find both hope and joy. It’s a challenging time. Consider where you find your hope. Where do you find your joy? What are you role modeling for your children with these important questions?