Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Top Model

I am a teacher. In my heart of hearts that is what I do and love the most. I spent 7 years in the classroom teaching English and most recently publications before I decided to leave the 170 students I taught each year to be home with my most important students: my kids. It was a tough choice for me to leave; my friends know how I agonized over it. I still miss it terribly and am certain that someday I will return. Until then I look forward to email updates, fun shout outs and conversations on facebook, and even, crazily enough, wedding announcements that are starting to come from my former students. They are all an intricate part in the fabric of my life; I love them all so much and feel indescribably connected to many of them. 

I don't believe in fate or chance. I believe in a certain plan for my life, and I think that certain people enter it at certain times, for moments or years, to touch me on a certain level. I know that I was the teacher in my classroom those years, but I learned so much from the students who walked through the door of room 903. Somedays when the bell rang, I would sit at my desk and feel so lucky to have been the one who was taught that day. Not only did they teach me with their enlightening perspectives, but also in the way they carried themselves and treated others. Each year there were students who entered my classroom and also entered my heart. This beauty was one of them. 

I first met Alyssa her sophomore year of high school. She was in my sophomore honors English class and I am afraid I scared her the first day, like I do most of my students. Isn't it funny Lyss, thinking back to that first day of class...who would have thought years later I would have been taking your family pictures? Interesting the judgements we make when we first encounter something and how, with time, it changes into something completely different. I am strict the first little bit of the year; I need my students to take me seriously. So all my jokes and smiles stay in my pocket for a bit. ;) I am sure that Alyssa was nervous at our first meeting, but she made eye contact and kept smiling at me through my entire first-day tyrant act. I knew I was going to like her and that she would be one of those students who was very special to me.

Alyssa has so many gifts. She is intelligent beyond measure. In fact, I looked forward to reading her papers; sometimes I would put them on the bottom of the stack because it was something to look forward to: a treat at the end. She is sharp, smart, and classy. She is a friend to everyone she meets, always seeking to raise spirits and include everybody, especially the excluded; I never heard her speak ill of anyone. Her friendship knows no bounds and is abundant and true.

After her sophomore year she applied to be a part of the publications team. I knew she would be on the staff before she even when through the interview process. She is one of those people you would choose to be with and work with in any capacity. If I had to compile a team to create something noteworthy and award winning, I would choose her in two seconds. She is responsible and dependable beyond measure. She did everything that was asked of her without question or complaint; I knew I could count on her for anything. When we had down time we would sit at my desk and talk about all of our favorite things, namely our favorite tv shows. We both loved America's Next Top Model at the time and would catch up on the weekly episodes and debrief our feelings on the outcomes. A few years later Alyssa texted me from an airport telling me she was sitting with two of the models from the show. It made me smile and get nostalgic for her and our laughs and times together.

She is thoughtful and pensive, thinking things through before she makes a judgment. I find myself magnetized to this quality in people. I love it about Alyssa.

Her laugh makes you feel like everything is good in this world, and her smile would melt the iciest of exteriors. Alyssa has a kind heart. She was born privileged but seeks to share her gifts with others. I love that. I love that she is so filled with compassion for other people and especially for her family. 

She has one brother, Eric, whom she is very close to.

She calls him Brother Bear...seriously, so cute! I could only wish Larkin would call Gunnar that...sorry...am I embarrassing you Eric? ;)

Loved these two shots:

Like me, Eric looks up to Alyssa; it is sweet to hear him talk about how much he admires her.

Love this one:

Eric wasn't a fan of having his picture taken but I thought he did well and I am sure he did it because he knew it would make his sis happy. So sweet!

They are both very close to their dad, Mike,

especially, Lyss. I love the close relationship daughters can have with their fathers. It can be something so important and special. I wish that for Larkin and Jaren.

Alyssa gets her humanitarian heart from her dad; he is planning on spending his retirement years working with non-profit organizations and donating his time to help inner-city kids. So admirable. Jaren and I both commented about how friendly and welcoming he was with both of us. We felt like we wanted to have them all over for dinner after spending one evening chatting. ;)

Alyssa and Eric have been blessed to have more than one mom in their lives. Jackie joined the family awhile ago and is a very sincere and kind person; she fits in nicely with the rest of them. ;)

A few of everyone together:

Alyssa's heart is so big that she has welcomed other brothers and sisters in. 

Jackie's son and girlfriend just had a baby, Shane. I got emotional editing these pictures remembering his tender little spirit and demeanor. Stephen and Lisa, are lucky to have him.

Loved this moment. It made me tear up thinking of the tenderness that is shared with a mother and her new baby. Very, very sweet.

He is a love and a very mellow baby, which is a gift.

It started to get cold and the light was fading so I didn't get to talk to everyone as much as I would have liked, but I did notice a trend with this entire family: they have contagious smiles.

Jackie's other son, Brian and his wife, Rita, and their two kids, Aaron and Sasha:

And the family all together, minus Eric, who had to dash to get to a final...

Thanks to everyone for enduring the cold! ;) It was worth it. And thanks for the delicious hot chocolate to warm us up afterwards at The Kettle. Manhattan Beach was enchanting; this family was too.
Alyssa, I have always and will always have a very special place in my heart for you. I know you entered my life at a certain to teach me compassion, understanding, listening, and kindness. I am grateful for you and believe this world is better because you are a part of it.
Merry Christmas to all of you. May you continue to smile and be happy together, Kamee


Bethany said...

Awww...what a sweet post!! Love the connection you have with Alyssa!!

Great images, as always!!

Have a WONDERFUL Christmas Kamee!!

caitlinholmes said...

I miss room 903 every single day! There are very few memories that pop into my mind about Tesoro without YOU or YOU and yearbook included...there never has been nor ever will be any teacher like you. Students to be are anxiously awaiting your return! I'm tihnking about trying to pull a crazy stunt and re-enroll in High School just to take your class again. And, ALYSSA....my goodness! Girlfriend, where were you at the alumni game?! You are looking beautiful as always and I can't believe that Eric is already a man, kinda. SO CRAZY! Great post, great pictures, great people...Merry Christmas!!

Sarah said...

Beautiful pictures! and is Eric sinlge?? lol