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Home > School Issues Channel > School Issues Archive > Teach for America Diaries > Babak Mostaghimi's Diary > Entry #4

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The Farther We Go, the Closer We Get
by Babak Mostaghimi


When Thanksgiving rolled around and my kids found out that I was going home to visit my parents, their biggest fear was that I would not come back. I had kids hugging me and holding on to me telling me that they wanted my parents to come to the Delta instead of me visiting home. A couple even invited me to their houses for Thanksgiving dinner, hoping that keeping me in the Delta over break would up their chances of having me back later. When I asked why they were so worried, many told me of how they had had teachers leave in the past, but that they really wanted me to stay.

When winter break came, I thought I had proven that I was in for the long haul, but even then I had a large group of kids asking me if I would return. So when January rolled around and I was still there teaching, I reached a whole new level of trust and understanding with my children.

The week after winter break I was sent by my school to a teacher conference in Biloxi and had to miss three days of school. I had always questioned the old saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but if there was ever an example of its truth, it was those three days. Not only did I find myself wondering how my kids were doing at every moment of the day, but the kids called me wondering what I was up to. One child, Laquita, called me while I was at dinner one night:

Laquita: Mr. Mostaghimi, when you comin back? Me: Ill be back on Thursday, Quita. Laquita: Shoot, Mr. Mostaghimi cant you come back earlier? I dont wanna go to school without you here. Me: Quita, how is our class behaving? Laquita: They be alright, but it aint the same without you here. Can you pleeeeeease come back tomorrow? Me: Laquita, I wish I could, but I have to be down here so I can be a better teacher. Can you take care of my classroom for me and make sure the kids are good? Laquita: Yes, sir. But please come back soon.

Back at the conference the next day, I brought up the interaction with a veteran teacher with whom I was attending a class. She laughed, surprised that I was brave enough to give out my cell phone number to the kids. Little did she know that I have kids calling me up to ask about everything from homework to what I think about the new videos on BETs 106 & Park.

When I returned to school two days later, my classroom was even cleaner than I had left it. Apparently Laquita had taken my request to heart and had recruited some helpers after school before I came back to make my classroom perfect. She came up and gave me a big hug in the morning and as I walked with her down the hall, one of the sixth grade teachers, Mr. Cooper, gave me an unusually large smile.

Me: How are you doing Mr. Cooper? Mr. Cooper: All right, Mr. Mostaghimi. You know Laquita missed you when you were gone. Me: (smiling) I know sir, and Im glad to be back.

Wondering why Mr. Cooper had the large smile I asked Laquita to tell me what was going on. Apparently while I was in Biloxi Laquita was so distressed by my absence that she had to go to Mr. Cooper to talk with him about how much she missed me. In her own words: Mr. Mostaghimi, I just couldnt take it here without you here so I just had to talk to Mr. Cooper."

As a teacher closing in on the last months of the school year, I have come to realize that each child is like a Laquita to me. Starting as a teacher in Shelby, I would have never imagined growing so close to all my students and each day Im surprised at how much closer we become. Our class has been a shared experience in learning and our shared experience has made us that much closer.

Laquita, I have to admit that I missed all yall too.

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Article by Babak Mostaghimi
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Posted 02/21/2007