Every now and again, a kid comes along that makes me think that all is right with the world. I first noticed Bernardo when he was a second grader. He always smiled and when he smiled, his face was beatific. Even his eyes participated. His older brother had been a student in my class, and so we had a connection. I started noticing Bernardo out on the playground. He was constantly happy, and he played with kindness. Sometimes there were other kids around him, sometimes he was alone. I always made an effort to say "hello" to him by name. He always politely returned the favor. As he got older, I was disappointed to not have him placed in my classroom. However, whenever we would switch classes, I would get to see him in action. During our Fantastic Friday sessions, he took a coiled clay container class with me. I loved watching how intently he worked with the clay. Bernardo was very careful with his glazing. During Science Switch, he listened closely, and completed the activities with earnestness.
Later on, he moved to fourth grade. I would only see him on campus randomly. But, every time, he would smile or wave. It didn't matter how uncool he might seem to other students, by waving to a teacher. Today, I watched him play a trumpet solo as part of the end of the year band assembly. His part was carefully rehearsed. He was not nervous. He played confidently and smiled when his part was done. Afterwards, he sat in the bus line, and since the buses were late, he entertained the students with trumpet versions of "Frere Jacques" and "Bingo". I thanked him for playing and then told him that I could tell he practiced a lot. But, the thing that I enjoyed the most, was seeing him laugh between songs. He clearly relished being an entertainer, in his quiet, modest way.
In a few weeks, Bernardo will be promoted to middle school. I will probably spend the first few months of next year, looking for him on the playground, and then will realize, with a shock, that he's at middle school. He is just a good kid, plain and simple.