Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Teacher's Jewels

When I attended the commencement for our high school's senior class, I took pictures.  I was hardly alone in this as parents and grandparents and friends of the graduates took enough photos with their phones and tablets to have exhausted Kodak's store of celluloid back in the day.  As a teacher, whose legal responsibility is to act in loco parentis, I shared their pride and beamed widely as my Latin students joined over eight hundred of their classmates to receive their diploma.

Once they have graduated, these students may join a Facebook group of my former students, which spans more than a quarter century.  There we share photos and memories.

Why do I take pictures of my graduates?  Why do I want to keep in contact with them?  Why do I take as much pleasure in their announcements of collegiate and work achievements, marriages, and births as I did when they won a ribbon in a Junior Classical League competition?  It is because of Cornelia.


In his Nine Books of Memorable Deeds and Sayings, Valerius Maximus reported this about a woman named Cornelia.

Maxima ornamenta esse matronis liberos, apud Pomponium Rufum collectorum libro * sic inuenimus: Cornelia Gracchorum mater, cum Campana matrona apud illam hospita ornamenta sua pulcherrima illius saeculi ostenderet, traxit eam sermone, <donec> e schola redirent liberi, et 'haec' inquit 'ornamenta sunt mea'.  4.4.init.

"Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi, when a matron from Campania showed her her jewels, the most beautiful of that time, plied the woman with conversation until her children returned from school and said, 'These are my jewels.'"


My wife and I have two wonderful children, and they are, of course, the crown jewels of my life.  Yet these students are jewels as well, filling the treasury of teaching.  I take pride in them much as their own parents do.

This young man spent as much time in the French teacher's (pictured here) room as in mine!

And I love sharing this pride with those parents.  I text them the pictures I have taken and tag them with the photos on Facebook.  I know how much it means to my wife and me when we hear from others about our children.  Many teachers take pictures of their students, and I would encourage all to share those pictures with the students' families.  Like Cornelia, they already see their children as jewels, but it is always nice to know that others think the same.


  1. Superior example life's importance. Our legacy is not what, but who we leave behind. I am honored to know a teacher of your renown. May your jewels continue to radiate the light you have helped direct.


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