I Stand With The Students – Part 1

Greetings from my heart to yours…

I started this particular piece on 02.13.18 in honor of the love of my profession…one day later on Valentine’s Day another school shooting occurred in our history.

As a result of that and Valentine’s day, I wrote a much simpler piece about love and not needing any particular day to express our love.

The reason being, I must admit in the last eight days – my mind was left reeling (AGAIN) over the horrors of these repeated shootings?

As a result of that shooting, I started a piece to reflect my viewpoint as an educator who stands with the students. Only I hadn’t published that piece either.

I have been stuck in a place where I have literally cried every day while watching, reading and listening in horror and in my own silent space, completely MUTE.

As I watch a nation divided, I continued to pray and look for a sense of guidance. I watched all this unfold from the perspective of an educator, mother and citizen…and with each passing day, I felt a heightened sense of trauma where I questioned myself, my choices to continue, and even my beloved career…and my heart was broken at the inability to find comfort or solace.

Then February 22nd occurred and for some reason this has always been a day that has brought me clarity.

I don’t know what it is about this day but in the history of Hope, it is usually a good day for me and the answers I needed came to me.

It was today last year that a student gave me a rock. It was a very special painted rock that simply said “love” and he told me that it was for me because I “rocked”…

I have kept that rock on my desk this past year, and for the last eight days I have stared at it, held it, turned it over in my hands, waiting for an answer to come to me…when today everything clicked. Everything aligned, a weight lifted and I remembered why I do what I do.

IT IS ABOUT THE CHILDREN and my overwhelming love for THEM.

So while it took eight days to find my silver lining through this very dark vortex of chaos that probably will not truly go away for many years to come, I came full circle.

I came to the point that I can only do what I can do and I can continue to do my small part in trying to make a difference.

I can only love, educate and pray that I contribute to the well being of a student and as I typically work with the more educationally and emotionally troubled teens. I especially pray that I am forever mindful of their needs, as I have been since the start of my career.

So, in the spirit of that full circle, here is the original piece I had begun (prior to the shooting) that are my thoughts about loving my profession!

It’s in that very same spirit that I say…no matter how many years go by, frustrated I may get or wonder what in the world am I doing? It still always comes back to how IN LOVE I am with my chosen profession.

I vividly recall many times over my amazing father telling me I would be a natural in the finance/business world and while it would have been great, certainly the money would have been nice, I simply don’t believe my heart would have ever really been in it.

It wouldn’t have been “ME” because I wouldn’t have been making the same impact as I have in this profession. Educators get rich in the form of life long relationship, and making a difference in LIVES!

It’s difficult for educators to convey this feeling to anyone outside of our profession and as a result, so often – we don’t even try – yet imagine if you will, these types of scenarios playing out in your average day…

When one of your beloved student’s comes bounding up, thrilled to tears that she reached one of her goals and you hug and she excitedly thanks you for your unwavering efforts in her journey to be one of the first in her family to graduate.

Meanwhile it seemed a relatively small part to play in this person’s life but to them it was the steady push they needed to stay committed – yes – it reminds you just how worth it, it all is!

Did I get a BONUS? Did anyone care…? She cared that I cared, and as a result – we never gave up. My bonus, she was at my first baby shower and has been a friend for life…


When you cry real tears because it is time to let go, say good-bye and watch student’s you love walk across the stage and in to their future.

The very students who brought joy to your day with their bright smiles and jovial, respectful manner.

Knowing how much you will miss them and ALL your little groups that steadily make their usual little treks to your office to say “HI”, wanting to check grades, just to talk or spend lunch with you.

When they bring just as much to your day as you could ever hope to impart on theirs.



When you tell friends outside of education that you got another little note from one of your students, to add to your box of 20+ years of notes…and what a great work day it was as a result of that note…and they kind of just look at you, with an odd expression on their face, seeming to get it BUT not really!

When you literally have danced around a conference table before the start of an IEP meeting.

Yes, you heard it right!

The parent, Teacher of Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the ESE teacher, case manager, a District Transition Specialist, myself (as IEP Facilitator) and student danced to (of all things) “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

“Why?” you ask…

Because he wanted to and it was his meeting! I sure wasn’t going to tell him no as he said, “all eyes on me!” and motioned us to get up while we hooted, clapped, danced and cheered with glee before getting down to the deeper conversations about his future.

That little dance reminded me just how unique my profession is as it matches the uniqueness of each child, each moment and each day.

They become “MINE” the moment they walk through my door but they are someone else’s child and they are meant to be loved and embraced as if each and everyone were our own!

Honestly, there are so many moments in each day, it is impossible to keep track but I know I am richer for it.

I am so blessed to be in a profession where I have the opportunity and good fortune to forge relationships daily with families and my pay isn’t just about a paycheck!

Yup – these are the moments!

You see, you can switch jobs over and over because of your ideals, or in the quest of “bettering” yourself or because you think the grass will be greener or for more money, or to prevent your heart from being broken or even because of fear…

Certainly there will be times when I think of things that take me to those questions but then I remind myself, I am building my life and taking part in building the lives of my students, one step at a time.

Each day with these future adults gives my next steps meaning, purpose and clarity and I prayerfully consider what I am doing, knowing I am spiritually supported all along the way.

Next time you start your day, think of what gives you meaning, purpose and clarity…and by all means, have the courage to dance first, before getting down to business…because I’m living my best life – richer, fuller and still in love with my chosen profession.

So, thank you for today…I will continue to ROCK and I will continue to stand with the students and as always –

Go in love,


  • Kelly Purcell

    Just amazing! Thank you for sharing your precious thoughts on such an honorable profession. As a parent, I have always prayed that my girls would have teachers that LOVED their career and LOVED my kids 😊😊🙏🙏 Those are the very best kind!! 😍 Your enthusiasm comes from knowing your gift and allowing God to use it to impact His children 💕 God bless you, Hope!

    • Hope Elizabeth Dutton

      Thank you Kelly! I am so grateful to have had this calling as a profession, won’t lie…it gets hard at times! Yet, at the end of the day – it is still my love. I appreciate all your words of encouragement. It does not go unnoticed how positive you and they are! ❤️⚓️

  • BJ Davis

    Well said Hope!!!! If a teacher isn’t in it for her kids…. maybe they shouldn’t be there!
    Your kids are blessed to have a caring teacher in their lives!!!! Good job!!!
    ❤️ BJ

  • Monique D.

    You are a unique and special person because you help each child the way THEY need to be helped and guided, not the way you think they need to be driven. Rock on, Hope!

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