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I had the opportunity to visit a school where I taught for five years. I was able to go back to visit a friend of mine, and now mentor. She teachers 3-year-olds every day and does it with a smile.

I, too, will be teaching 3-year-olds in the fall, which is why I wanted to see her expertise in action.

When I made plans to visit, I didn't even think about running into former students or their parents. I was visiting with a mission in mind, learn and watch and remember, and just in case I didn't remember I had a notebook for notes.

During that short visit I ran into former students in the hallway who were surprisingly happy to see me. They are now fourth and fifth graders and when I last saw them they were 4 and maybe 5 years old. Many of them were taller than me.

As I received hugs and asked, "Where are you going next year, and how have you been?" I thought to myself, I really do something that leaves a little part of me behind like a fingerprint. These kids remembered me and my name and one of them said, "I was really sad when you left. I missed you."

I thought about his statement. Is it something that after 20-plus years of teaching I take for granted? Do I still realize that I am leaving my fingerprints behind?

The answer is I don't want to take my teaching vocation for granted. Maybe that is why God sent me back to that school. I thought I was there to learn about 3-year-old curriculum and management, but I was really there to realize that my job is a gift. A chance to leave  fingerprints behind, and not any old fingerprints, but those that will make a difference.

[Tweet "What kind of fingerprints am I leaving behind? Will they make a difference?"]

God chose me to be a teacher because he thought I could do some good in public schools, in places where many of my students have never held a book before and not even a conversation.

So, now I am thankful to be chosen to do this very exciting and very hard job. I accept it and love it and will not take it for granted. I need to remember that God thought I could leave good fingerprints behind, and I think I have and will work hard to continue to do so.

Regardless if I'm wearing my mommy hat, teacher hat, catechist hat, or sister hat, I need to ask myself, what am I leaving behind? I know what God wants me to leave behind, but sometimes I forget and need reminders.

God, thanks for the reminders.

Copyright 2016 Elizabeth Desiderato