(If you are not one of my students, read this. If you are. Skip down to the 2nd paragraph. I am writing this to my students. I wish to speak to them one last time and give them a way to keep in touch with me if they so wish. I think this is something that we should do as educators more often and I think that social media isn’t used like this enough.)
This is it. Yes, it is over. I am done at Montezuma High School. You’re reading this right now and you’re probably thinking, “Mr. Nikkel, just get to the point. It’s summer and I have some video games to play and some nothings to do.” My apologies. I will cut right to the chase.
I was thinking about what I may want you to remember about me after I left and what I may want to say on my last day but then I realized that this would probably be a better means and may mean more in the future to some of you. Spoken word is powerful but to be able to keep in contact with someone and follow their exploits is meaningful as well.
There are just a few brief things that I wanted to tell you and explain about myself and why I do what I do for you. Shibi dibi do. (Yes, I’m even a dork when I write.)
- I don’t think you realize how much I have enjoyed teaching all of you. Yes, ALL of you. Some I may consider more of a challenge but I learned so much from each of you concerning where different people come from, what you all think, what your ambitions are, etc. etc.
- I don’t think you realize just how much potential you have. Yes, ok, yes. Some of you will aim high and fall short. Some of you do NOT have the ability to be president. But you know what, that is a GOOD thing! Could you imagine if we all had the same sets of talents and abilities. How BORING that would be! Please, don’t write yourself off because you didn’t do well in my class. Just because you didn’t write well or because you didn’t get this whole grammar thing does that mean that you are a failure of a person. There are so many people that have gone on to great things and they have totally sucked at school.
- (Last and most important thing. I promise.) I wanted to tell you guys why I do what I do. I think so often students go to class and forget that their teachers have reasons for becoming teachers. I became a teacher because I wanted to help people. I initially thought that I wanted to be a doctor. When I realized that this meant memorizing the difference between a larynx and a pharynx I decided it wasn’t for me. I then thought of becoming a pastor, maybe a youth pastor. I always liked kids. Then I realized that I couldn’t deal with counseling people. I’d probably tell them things like, “Tough luck.” or “Sucks to suck, nerd.” (like I so often have with some of you.) I realized that teaching was probably a good route. I realized that I could be helping people and doing something I enjoy, acting goofy and ranting and maybe changing a few lives along the way, just like some of the teachers that I had.
I want you to realize that I don’t do what I do for the fame or the glory of the followers on my blog. I definitely don’t do it for the money. I think we all know that. I do it because I was called. Now that you’ve read this far, I know that you really do want to know more about who I am, so here it is. I do what I do because I feel like I have God-given talents and abilities to be a good teacher.
I don’t mean that I am God’s gift to students. I mean that God has given me what I need to be a teacher. Maybe even someday, I can be a really good teacher. What I do and how I do it stems from my deep desire to please my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Whoa! He’s talking about things that make me uncomfortable! Yeah, well here’s some more. Everything that I do in my life, including coming to Montezuma and teaching and leaving Montezuma for Johnston, I believe, is what God has guided me to do.
Now that we’re on the subject of faith, I want you all to know something because chances are many of you will not be reading this far since I brought up the Jesus guy that so many of you curse on a daily basis. My faith is real. It is radical and it has made me who I am today.
A lot of you go to church. I often am surprised how many of you go to church. You want to know something though. It has never gone beyond that for some of you. It’s something to do on Sunday or Wednesday. I want to call you to action. I want to stir you up and I want you to realize that your faith in Jesus should be the CENTER of your life. So often in the Bible, God talks about people that claim Him and know Him but he says, “Depart from me for I do not know you.” You want to know if your faith is real. Has it changed you? Are you different than everyone else? Are you someone who stands up when someone is being mistreated and says, “He doesn’t deserve that just because you think he’s weird.” or “Yes, she is annoying but she deserves your respect just like everyone else.” The Bible mentions that you can tell if a tree is good by it’s fruit. So it is with people. If what you do and say reflects Jesus, then you have been changed. If you look and act the same as everyone else, then you ARE NOT different.
Right about now you’re thinking, “Ok, Mr. Nikkel you’re sounding like my preacher. Time to wrap it up preachy guy.” Now you know why I was considering being one, don’t you. You see, I don’t just care about your mental state and your attitude. I care about the most important thing about you…your soul.
At this point, many of you will criticize me and say things like, “I’m an atheist. I don’t believe any of this.” Well, perhaps you should do some more digging instead of taking the easy way out. It’s easier to go with the majority of mainstream culture than do the work to have something real that means something to you, like a faith that requires you to take risks.
I’m done here. I don’t want you to think that this rant means that I think you’re all wrong and that you all need Jesus. I think that many of you have a very real faith. I know that many of you don’t, though. Those are the people that concern me the most. They are the ones that I pray for continuously. If you have any questions for me, please feel free to contact me at my personal email at email@example.com. I will talk to you on the phone if you want me to but the last thing I want is to let things go unsaid.
I will truly miss ALL of you. I hope that every one of you can find Jesus since He said Himself that he is, “THE way, THE truth, and THE light.” Not a way or a truth or a light.