Yesterday I donned my teacher/author persona and spent the day at Bayside Middle School. That school has welcomed me for the last few years and yesterday’s visit held the same quality and warm experience I have always had there. Twenty four bright and beautiful kids came through the door of Lori’s room and spent the day with me. Each one was unique and wonderful in their own way and I was given the gift of glimpsing that uniqueness. I hope in some small way I was able to help them see it in themselves. In their writing I saw sorrows, pain, frustration, fear, confusion, insecurity, self criticism, past trauma and I saw hope, joy, strong family bonds,humor,courage and promise. Our lives intersected and the connection was so worth while. My hope for Sarah, MacKenzie, Paula, Layla, Tish,Justine, Izzy, Maddox,Oden, Liam,Emma,Abby, Dora, T ( a beautiful name she kept me from trying to pronounce), Ava, Brooke, Grace, Jasmine, Luke, Riley, Hannah, Isabelle, Reese, Kayley is that they remain exactly who they were born to be and that their spirits soar despite life’s challenges. I remember Bayside Middle. I remember tables pushed together to seat twenty four eager kids ready to meet the author of the books they’d read. I remember learning their names getting Jasmine and Justine mixed up , stumbling over two beautiful names and given a shortcut to use instead.I remember Liam and Oden reading passages from the books they’d read and touching this author’s heart. I remember questions so thoughtful and deep.I remember vulnerability and eye contact. I remember the ‘I remember’ pieces written that brought tears and caught me off guard, the humorous and the touching ones. I remember feeling the beauty of hope in the room. I remember coming away and walking out the door of Bayside Middle thankful for the privilege I am given to have days such as that.