Autumn is here. Leaves are falling and Thanksgiving is coming. It's the time of year elementary school teachers across the nation assign young students that traditional Thanksgiving essay you might remember from your school days: "What are you thankful for?"
Those essays, in best cursive writing, end up on school bulletin boards, displayed with construction paper pilgrims and crayon cranberry sauce. In my 23 years of teaching, I've assigned this essay to many students on many Thanksgivings. Every year, there's a certain similarity: "I'm thankful for my family, my friends, my Play Station2..."
Some Thanksgiving essays do stand out, though.
One year, a third grader was thankful he was still alive, though cancer was killing him. I remember a student, thankful to be out of foster care and living with an adoptive family. Another Thanksgiving, a boy wrote an essay about being thankful for his new puppy and his energetic description. Playing with that puppy the way only an 8-year-old can practically jumped off the bulletin board.
But there is one item which doesn't make those "I'm thankful for" essays very often: going to school every day.