My first experience with Jennifer Roberts’ students was three years ago, a day I will never forget, and one that has become a big part of the talks I give about my friendship with Fred Rogers. (The young man I refer to as Mr. Attitude was in that class.)
Those kids, part of a class for students who need an extra boost toward college, were sophomores then. That first day was the beginning of real friendships with them, many visits to Legacy High School Mansfield, Texas, where we would just sit and talk about real stuff from the heart.
At their graduation lunch last spring, they asked me to be part of their picture because, “You are one of us.” One of my greatest honors.
Today, I met Mrs. Roberts new group of kids at Legacy, and those of another great teacher, Dionne Allen Harris. I shared my story about Fred, and his message about feelings, and “anything mentionable is manageable” and how, at my lowest moment, Fred wrote that, “I will never forsake you.”
And again, it was magic, magical tears shed by us all. Healing tears. After class many hugs and a few of them shared their heartbreaks, their struggles, which recalled Fred’s words to me. “Your trust confirms my trustworthiness.”
“Why did you make us all cry?” one girl asked me.
“Because tears are good,” I said.
At the end of our hour, I told them how beautiful they were and how much I loved them and how in this often-challenging journey in life, we are all in this together.
And life is good.