The following story was submitted by Ms. Betty Baez, Kindergarten Dual Language teacher at New Horizons Elementary School. Twenty-four years ago, Ms. Baez was a kindergarten teacher at Seminole Trails Elementary School when she met two special students who would go on to leave a lasting impression on her heart.
A long time ago, twenty-four years to be exact, I began to prepare for a new school year at Seminole Trails Elementary School in West Palm Beach. As the year began, I was full of excitement, enthusiasm, and hope for the new students arriving in my Kindergarten class.
As the day approached, I was thrilled to meet these new little faces with wonder in their eyes. It was a great group of students with many different personalities.
It was there that I met Amanda and Javier, two little 6-year-old students. Amanda was a ball of fire, happy, funny, sweet, eager to learn and adorable. Javier was cute as a button; shy, happy, enthusiastic about learning, very loving and sweet. He had new challenges as his family had just arrived from Peru and he was learning a new language.
As the year progressed, so did the children. They were amazing students and excelled in academics. I always noticed Amanda and Javier playing together and chasing each other like butterflies in the sun. We had a great year and learned many new and exciting concepts. The year came to an end and these two little people certainly left a great impression in my heart.
They continued through our elementary school and I visited their classes, keeping up with their progress throughout the years. Before fifth grade, both families moved out of state to pursue their own dreams. I have always remembered Amanda and Javier, as I remember many other students that have meant so much to me throughout the years. I always wondered what had happened to them and their wonderful parents.
Much to my surprise, in September 2017 I received a letter from Javier’s mother inviting me to join them at Javier’s wedding. What a beautiful letter and a big surprise to me; Javier was going to marry Amanda! Yes, little Amanda from Kindergarten! Learning about their love story and catching up with them was simply beautiful. Amanda and Javier had reunited during the college years and began to date 10 years ago.
Both sets of parents were in touch with me immediately so that we could plan a special surprise for Amanda and Javier. The parents wanted to surprise the couple with my presence at their wedding since they had always talked about and remembered me throughout the years and say they owe their love of learning to me.
The parents arranged for me to go out to Simi Valley, California where the wedding was to take place. I received an invitation to the rehearsal dinner, and the plan was for me to show up while I was talking to Amanda and Javier on the phone sending my well wishes and blessings.
At the same time, I would suddenly walk into the banquet room and go right up to them. As I entered, the two were hovered over the phone speaking to me.
I had a short walk to where they were sitting. When they looked up and saw me, words cannot express the feelings and emotion I saw on their faces. There were tears, happiness, joy, laughter, and they kept saying “how can this be possible.”
Needless to say, it was a moment a teacher could never forget and only hope for. The next day, Amanda and Javier were married in Simi Valley at Hummingbird Nest Resort. The wedding was spectacular; the sun was setting, then we dined and danced under the stars and a full moon with the mountain breeze blowing through our hair, cooling down the night.
I am very proud of Amanda and Javier. They have grown up to be amazing human beings. They have traveled to 20 countries and want to make the world a better place. Javier graduated from George Mason University with a degree in Applied Computer Science. He is the very successful owner, co-founder and chief technology officer of a one-of-a-kind business called Ticker.
Amanda studied Epidemiology at UCLA and Chemistry at Northern Illinois University. She is a coordinator at the UC Irvine Department of Obstetrics. Her post-graduate internship included working in Kenya with children who were victims of war atrocities. She is currently working on her Doctorate.
These two students, Javier Gonzales and Amanda Landrian are products of the Palm Beach County School System which prepared them for the spectacular life they are leading today. The best story for me as a teacher is to see their lives come full circle. I am humbled, proud and feel so loved. I realize that they don’t forget us and we really do make a difference in their lives.