“He will reply ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” Matthew 25:45, NIV

There she is, in the third row, sitting right in front of the teacher’s desk. Her eyes shine with excitement because she knows the answers to the teacher’s questions. Though the teacher does not call on her again, it is hard to ignore her arms waving excitedly in the air. Her body language pleads, “Call on me. I know the answers. I’ve studied and done my homework.” But she’s been called on so many times already, the teacher thinks, and it’s only fair to give the other students in the class an opportunity to participate.

She is obviously poor. Most of what she wears to school is second-hand or comes from the Salvation Army. There are several children in the family, and her parents struggle to make ends meet. Despite all of this, she’s a bright little girl, eager to learn, and determined to make something of herself.

I know that little girl! It was me so many years ago!

I diligently search for her in my classroom each school year. More than gender or ethnicity, it is an attitude of desperation that I look for in a student, combined with God-given gifts and desires.

My teacher’s words helped to turn the embers in my soul into flames that could not be doused by the waters of mediocrity; a teacher’s encouragement; a teacher’s patience with my obvious shortcomings; a teacher’s love.

Has the Lord shown you yourself in your classroom? If so, has it caused you to reach out a little more to others with compassion and grace? And what about Jesus? Have you seen Him in your classroom, too?

Lord, give me the words that fan into flame the distinctive gifts you have placed in my students. May they be encouraged today. Amen

Copyright Clara Ruffin.

Clara is a lifetime member and retired educator from Connecticut.

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Teachers of Vision is a digital and printed magazine that is for teachers and written by teachers to encourage and equip the educational community.

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