Over the years I have taught many children. One student stood out amongst all the rest. I met Ethan over six years ago when he was a little second grader walking down the hall with his nose deep in a book, and I had to grab a hold of his shirt before he fell down the stairs. Last week a terrible accident happened and his young heart couldn’t take it anymore and he died at the age of 14.
I was Ethan’s third and fourth grade teacher, but during those two years our relationship changed more to family. Over the years the bond that started with books grew to a very special friendship. We talked often about the challenges of being a young man that looks at the world through a whole different set of eyes.
|Ethan and Senator Bennet|
Some time during that horribly day this picture of Ethan popped into my mind and comforted me. In the picture Ethan is trying to convince Senator Michael Bennet to speak at the pro-equality rally he was planning. At the time Senator Bennet would not commit to his cause. I remember spending the week trying to explain to Ethan the reasons why Senator Bennet could not come. Nine year olds can be very stubborn. Later that spring when Senator Bennet and Secretary Arnie Duncan visited my classroom for a round table about education with kids I had to watch Ethan like a hawk to make sure the topic didn’t come up.
Ethan was always a reader. Just recently he told me how he still freaked out whenever he thought about Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s book The Prince of Mist. He loved that books made him think. Ethan was and will always be the boy reader.
In fourth grade Ethan wrote the following poem. It was used on the first page of Denver Public School’s poetry anthology.
Books are ways to escape reality,
ways to feel joy in times of pain
Books are portals to other worlds
waiting to be read
waiting to be enjoyed
waiting to be explored.
Good-bye my sweet boy.