A few weeks ago my mother, a second grade teacher, was meeting my aunt in nearby college town. As my mom and my aunt walked the campus they ran into one of my mother's former students. She introduced herself and the boy lit up, excited to tell his former teacher about his new adventures. He took them around campus to meet people important in his life and proudly introduced her as "my second grade teacher", giving her a certain reverence. They had a delightful afternoon and learned all about his life in the fairly large college town. He was thrilled to see her again and wanted to know all about her memories of him as a second grader. She and my aunt had an absolutely delightful afternoon with him.
I suppose any veteran teacher visiting a state college campus may have similar experiences, which would be such a wonderful reminder to why we teach, but this former student has Downs Syndrome. Running into this student in his independent life, and having him give you a tour of where he works, explain how he gets to work, all while proudly introducing you as "my second grade teacher" gives a reverence to teaching that gives me goosebumps.
I hope that one day, years from now, I'll hear about my current students with special needs and how successful they are in their own lives.