So thankful for a snow day!  Family members in Eastern Washington are fed up, but I’ve been heart-hungry to hear that certain scrunch under my boots. To feel icy wind and snowflakes on my cheeks. To marvel at how hopeful the world looks when covered in white.

Evidence of how I spent the morning shows up below.  I didn’t need any six minute escapes today, it was a whole day of shutting out worries of the world. (Even avoided the news and political posts on FB.) Mike planned to join me for the snow walk, but woke up with a cold that he had been trying to push off over the weekend.

Mike’s first two weeks back in the classroom have been ordinary and extraordinary all at once.  There is the normal stuff: report cards, IEP reports, lesson plans, math papers to correct, and of course, the kids (meaning high school students).

These kids are where the extraordinary comes in.  I asked Mike if he’d consider blogging about some of his experiences.  He shook his head sideways, but said I could.  Pretty certain that I have no way to convey his stories, but they’re too rich to miss altogether.

On the “Praying for Mike Ausmus” FB page, we mentioned one of Mike’s students who sent an email every day that he was recovering.  The note that most put us on alert read, “Mr. Ausmus, no matter what the sub tells you, don’t believe him.”

Our teacher/parent instincts proved correct and the problem was not with the sub.  “He was the worst,” other students ratted the kid out the very first day of Mike’s return.

This revelation came as Mike spent each of his class periods introducing a new paradigm for them and for himself.

“I’ve spent these last three weeks thinking about you guys,” he told them after explaining that his heart had stopped three times on December 20th. “Life has no guarantees.  You can walk out of here and get hit by a car.  Did you live your life the best way possible?”

“Do you know what integrity is?” he went on.

They didn’t answer.

“It’s who you are when no one is looking.” He wrote the word on the board, just as the principal came in.

“Integrity!” she said.  “Now that’s a good word.  It’s who you are when no one is looking.”

Guess that made his point. He talked to them about the importance of integrity and a trustworthy character in every area of their lives.

“You might hate math, but if you come in here and show integrity in how you do your work, you will have something that you can take with you anywhere you go.  You apply integrity and it will help you find your purpose in life.”

I thought, “Wow! You shared this with all three groups? How did they take it?”

“Good.  Although they groaned when I told them that I hadn’t done a good job with the contract I set up at the beginning of the year, because it didn’t help them grow in integrity.  The new contract will have stricter cell phone policies and better goals for them.  They complained, but at the same time, I think they’re kind of excited.”

“How ’bout the kid who sent all the emails?”

“Well, the other kids told on him for his mouth when I asked them how they did with showing integrity towards the sub.  I gave each of them a piece of paper and told them to either write a thank you note or an apology as was appropriate. Pretty sure he wrote an apology.  In fact, the sub stopped by after school and said that three kids came to see him and apologized in person.  I think this kid was one of them.”

Again, I thought, “Wow!” Beauty for ashes. All that we’ve experienced the last two years suddenly seems important, necessary even.

Much more has been happening in the interactions that Mike, as well as other teachers, have been having with kids.  It’s not the right time to share some of those stories, but anyone who has been praying for Mike can also pray for the young people at his high school (or any high school). Kids are looking for adults that they can trust.  They want to know that their life matters.

Now for those snow pictures:

Snow Day Snow Day