I got an email a few weeks ago from my son’s teacher. She messaged the entire class’s parents as she does every Monday morning. Only this particular Mondays’ message was different. It still had details about what book they were reading and what ancient civilization they were studying and what to expect our kids to bring home for work that week. But at the end, in what I would say was a paragraph full of hope in a place there often isn’t, this teacher announced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
She wanted to let us know that she let the kids know at school that day, but she shared her news with such a strong grip on hope. I read it as though I could never write it. Not that way.
That night Aidan came home sad and concerned. He said kids were dressing up in pink the next day and he was brainstorming what to wear. He decided to take one of his dad’s not so white, white undershirts, cut off the sleeves and beg of me to, in pink pen, claim “I’m strong, but not Sherwood strong.” So I got my crafty self to work.
Sherwood, of course is his beloved teacher and boy is she truly loved! The day he sported this shirt to school I had to pick him up afterwards. As I waited in the car for the bell to ring and kids to file out, it was like the doors opened and puked pink. I saw pink hair, pink ribbons, pink fairy wings, pink wigs, pink sunglasses, pink socks, pink tutus, pink mustaches. There was pink in every shade on almost every kid! It was crazy!
This reigning pink support of the entire school was incredible and perhaps what is even more incredible is that it was inspired by a 6th grade student. And I got the cool opportunity to sit down and talk to Ian McDevitt about what inspired him to come up with this all out pink day for his teacher.
Ian is one of those kids that when you are talking to him it feels like he has an old soul, like the kind of kid who you know has big plans for his life and you can’t wait to watch his story play out. He went home that tuesday and the next week was spirit week and he says that the 6th graders were scheduled to wear orange, the 7th, green and the 8th, blue. And he couldn’t shake that his “by far the best teacher” he has ever had was diagnosed with cancer. He wanted to give back to her what she has given him. He describes Mrs. Sherwood as a teacher that “works so hard, checks on you, cares how kids learn and cares about everyone.” Ian just wanted to make her feel important.
So he went home as a 6th grade kid, wrote a rough draft and brought it back the next day and asked the principal, “nervously, sweating and wondering if it would be approved,” if he had permission to suggest the whole school wear pink rather than the other colors that were planned. The principal, who is awesome thought this was a great idea, helped Ian’s rough draft shape into something Ian could communicate over the intercom in 20 seconds and officially the next day became “Think Pink Thursday”.
Ian wasn’t sure if anyone would actually do it and he says when he got to school and the bus turned the corner of D street, he saw “a beautiful view of Whatcom Middle School. It was a pink mob! It was amazing to see!” He got off the bus and people were posing for pictures and making hearts with their hands and dying each others hair and Mrs. Sherwood’s room had been filled with pink balloons and even Mr. Marsee, Ian said, was wearing a pink shirt! Mrs. Sherwood was overjoyed by the support and showered in pink and hugs and love which will mean so much on the journey to come!
I listened to this young man share. It struck me that every student heard the news. Every student was sad and concerned and families prayed and brought flowers and reached out to Mrs. Sherwood, but there was something about Ian that made him step out and do something when it wasn’t asked or expected of him. So I asked him “Ian what inspired you to do this ?”
“No matter how small you are, you can make the biggest difference.”
I think we could all learn from Ian’s example. No matter how limited we feel, our efforts can create an abundance. No matter how young we are, we can impact the world. No matter how ineffective we think we are, we can have an effect.
I love his example and his challenge and thought his story should be told. To simply give ourselves the permission to impact sadness with support, to put pink back where there has been black news, to start a pink mob because a fantastic teacher needs to know she is loved, to make a difference in someone else’s journey, that is powerful.
Think, make a difference. Imagine what would happen if we all did…
Mrs. Sherwood has written her story of the journey she is now on and you will be gripped by her perspective and her hope. And that perspective will feed yours.