Frequently society asks kids what they’ve learned from adults. I wonder the opposite; what are we learning from our kids? About three years ago, I was in a down place. I had recently graduated college, was working a part-time job, and living with my Dad. I felt broken. But then something destined happened; my old high school offered me a job as one-on-one support with autistic kids. I had no experience in the field, but I had to make it work on my home turf. Four years later, I’ve now held various jobs in education. Each group of children has taught me something new and has proven vital in my growth as a man. Here’s what I’ve learned from our youth. 

Catholic K-8

The second job I worked in the education field was at a Catholic K-8 school. It can be considered my pandemic job. 

My alma mater was forced to RIFT people during Covid, which landed me with the Pope. 

My role at this school was half watching kids do their classes on Zoom and the other half at an all-day daycare center. It was a hybrid program. 

Upon entering this school, I felt out of place. I’d never worked at a religious institution, nor am I Catholic. 

I could fake it enough with the parents to keep my job, but the kids taught me how to fit in.

One student, in particular, was my favorite; we’ll call her Tilly. 

She was always goofy, but what happened next was unexpected.

One day during recess, I decided to freestyle rap, just trying to kill some time.  

A few days later, so did she. Her favorite rhyme included “taking a number two on a shoe.”

It was elite, and it was also a reminder that we should always be ourselves. 

High School Again

My first job in education was at my old high school. They hired me to work with a severely autistic kid. He was the type of student that needed constant supervision. 

This was pre-pandemic. Near the end of Covid, I left the Catholic school and returned to my alma mater. 

I now worked in a new classroom that combined autistic students with at-risk youth. The difference with these kids is that they are mostly independent. 

My new role had me following students into high school classes and intervening when necessary. 

This position allowed me to interact with the kids of my hometown for the first time since I was 18. 

What I learned from them is acceptance. 

While many people didn’t mess with me at that time, the students did. 

It’s not cool to be 29, working at your old high school, and living at home. Adults often ignored me because I couldn’t offer them money or prestige. 

The students treated me with respect, and for that, I’ll always rep Shoreline. 

Private Middle School

My journey at the private school is different from my two previous experiences; I work a variety of part-time jobs rather than one full-time. 

I started as a basketball coach, did some gym managing, and currently work at their after-school program. 

On my first day at this institution, I felt intimidated. Their middle school tuition costs as much as my college.

But money couldn’t teach me the following lesson; human nature did.

What I’m still learning from these kids is how to relax. 

They act free. 

Whether basketball, studying, or making a choreographed TikTok dance video, these kids know they can do it. 

Watching them is helping me take my next step in development as a man. 

And that’s what I’m doing right now.