The $1.00 gift that cost a fortune

“A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect.” 

— Johnathan Huie

My dream: Becoming a Teacher

Since the time I was a small child, I have always dreamed of becoming a teacher. 

My plan was to teach and give the gift of learning to students, but I have found, through the years, that my students have given so much to me.

My shadow, Sammy

Several years ago, this young man, I’ll call him Sammy, was a kid who would show up in my classroom about 45 minutes before school just to hang out. 

Sammy was a needy child; he constantly demanded my attention and he was lacking in most social skills. 

On days that he didn’t come to school, I was somewhat relieved because I could get some things done before my classes began.

A gift to remember

One December, Sammy met me early at my classroom door wearing a huge grin. He quickly gave me a Christmas card that had a slight bulge.

I opened the envelope with Sammy eagerly watching me and something flashy slipped out of the card and into my hand. 

I looked closely at the items and discovered that it was a pair of plastic earrings.

In his poor handwriting, he wrote on the card, “Mrs. Grant — You are my favorite teacher, in female. Sammy”

I smiled and thanked Sammy for his gift. He quickly said, “Aren’t you going to put them on?” and I quickly did so. Sammy was thrilled, and I was dazed.

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Later in the day, my principal came up to me at lunch and said, “Mrs. Grant, I don’t think that I would go swimming in any pond with those earrings on.” 

I looked at him and nodded, recognizing that these earrings looked just like cheap fishing lures.

The value of Sammy’s gift

I wore the earrings from time to time, just to make Sammy feel good and it wasn’t until the spring of that school year that I realized the value of his gift.

We were having an after school outing off the school campus that Sammy attended. 

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Afterward, the bus driver dropped off several kids, including Sammy, on the way back to the school. 

I glanced out of the bus window when he got off and was shocked at what I saw.

Sammy lived in a house that had several windows without panes. The front door didn’t appear to shut properly, and then one of the teachers whispered quietly that Sammy’s house only had dirt floors and no indoor plumbing.

I was stunned. I never knew that Sammy lived in such conditions and then I thought of the earrings that he had given me that could not have cost more than a dollar. 

Tears gathered in my eyes as I thought of how much that gift cost him. He took the little that he had and he spent it on me.

I still have the earrings from many years ago. When I look at them, I realize again that I set out to teach in order to give my students many things but, in reality, they give me so much more.

Susan Grant has taught middle and high school students for more than 30 years. She is a member of the National Writing Project and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She has won writing competitions and published pieces of non-fiction, fiction and essays in publications including, Longridge Review, Chattanooga Writers’ Guild and the Bangor Daily News. Susan’s writing can be found at soulfitness101.com
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Susan Grant has taught middle and high school students for more than 30 years. She is a member of the National Writing Project and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She has won writing competitions and published pieces of non-fiction, fiction and essays in publications including, Longridge Review, Chattanooga Writers’ Guild and the Bangor Daily News. Susan’s writing can be found at soulfitness101.com

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