Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Quiet Ones Might Just Surprise You

As a teacher I've had my share of quiet students.  The ones that are great kids, do their work,  always give their best effort and are kind to others.  They don't really stand out as the leaders or followers, just really nice kids that I knew would be fine and successful in the end.  As the years pass I would hear things from other kids or parents about those quiet ones, how they had blossomed in middle school and were now the class leaders who were involved in everything.  The beauty of it was, in most cases, they were still the same person they were in elementary school, great kids who still were kind to others and took care of those in need.

Our son Steven fits this category.  As an elementary student Steven was a kind and gentle soul.  He followed the rules, laughed often and took care of others.  He wasn't the kid being chosen for the student council or the Choose to Lead program at his school.  He was chosen as student of the month several times and every teacher said the same thing, "He's such a nice boy, concerned for everyone and always happy."  In first or second grade he surprised us all by stepping up for a solo at the winter music concert, and he nailed it, not one bit of nervousness showed.

We saw a glimpse of what was to come beginning in fifth grade when, at the end of the year talent show, he did voice impressions.  The lovely Mrs. Prosser and I knew Steven was funny, in a quiet, witty kind of way, but we had no idea the level of confidence he really had.  He took the stage doing Mickey Mouse, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elmo and his specialty, Donald Duck.  The crowd went crazy and our Steven, our quiet Steven, commanded the stage.

He continued to branch out in middle school, playing various sports, participating in choir and drama and doing well in school.  As we attended events we began to have teachers and coaches begin to say, "Ohhh, you're Steven's parents, what a great kid!" 

It was in high school that we saw Steven really begin to show his true talents.  He continued his sports focusing on his new love, volleyball.  He continued performing in the choir and on stage in the Darby productions, but now he added a new wrinkle, he began taking a leadership role in all of these things.  He was chosen as a captain of the volleyball team, he was elected as an officer in choir and served in the freshman student council.  He began talking of his future plans as a leader at his school.  He had a real vision of what he wanted to accomplish in his four years at Hilliard Darby.

In his senior year, Steven could not have done anymore for his school.  As class president he lead the student body in a way that changed the culture of the school.  Now the lovely Mrs. Prosser and I had teachers and total strangers coming up to us telling us how much they loved Steven and what he had done for his school.  The beauty of it all is that it wasn't just Steven.  He maintained his humility through it all and gave credit to his fellow class officers and those around that helped create an amazing school year for all of the students.   He also kept his kindness, making sure that everyone felt welcome and included in everything,  he was till taking care of others, and laughing a lot. 

At his graduation party his kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Cassell looked at the table set up celebrating Steven's accomplishments.  Shaking her head she said, "I never would have predicted this.  I knew Steven was a good boy and would do well, but I never would have thought he would have accomplished all of this.  You must be very proud."  Yes, we are.

On Sunday we will pack Steven up for his freshman year at Ball State in Muncie, Indiana, he's moving in a week early as part of a leadership program.  I've known a lot of kids who say they will re-invent themselves in college, become the person they wished they had been in high school.  I don't think that's true of my son, I think he and everyone around him like the person he is.  That doesn't mean he won't try new things, he's never been afraid of that.  It just means that he will continue the progression he's been working on for the last 12 years, being all he can be, and taking care of others.  I know there will be lots of tears shed on Sunday, the lovely Mrs. Prosser, his sister, Meredith, and I will all cry for most of the 2 hour drive home, but in the end we will all be excited to watch what  he does with the next four years.

Watch the quiet ones, they will surprise you.  As my mother used to say, "Still waters run deep."


  1. Wow. I loved hearing Steven's story. And it makes me really ponder those quiet ones in the classroom. Helping them find their niche and allowing the confidence to grow.

    You have me crying being a proud momma! Best of luck as you move Steven. Let those tears bring back happy memories and memories to come. A baby growing up has to be the saddest day as a parent and also the proudest. (The good news? He's only a text, phone call or 2 hour drive away!)

  2. It's a beautiful tribute to your son, a lovely reflection to keep as the years roll on, and as you know, they do! I suspect your empowerment of Steven just the way he is (was) is part of being confident, making kind choices, sharing his success with those he works with. Best wishes for him and for you and saying goodbye. It's never easy, but still what we want for our children, to be free to go out into the world down their own paths.

  3. Shoot! I can hardly comment for the tears. He's a great kid and that's a tribute to great parenting. I so look forward to seeing what the next 5; 10; 20 years bring.

  4. How proud you must be! Congratulations, Dad, on a job well done, and on a beautiful tribute to your son! Enjoy your last few days together!

  5. This is a GREAT story! As teachers, we only get to see our little slice of their life (like S's K teacher), and we just never know. But as a parent, for you to see this continual He is definitely on a path, and his light will continue to shine brightly! What a fine young man he has become. Love the story of his BECOMING.

  6. OOh...Bill....this is so wonderfully written, and your Steven sounds a lot like his father! You must be so proud of him. By the way, I took your advice and didn't cry until after I left Chase this weekend. :)

    Alicia Giess