Vinae, or as we know him, Dishawn, embodies two gifts that Fred Rogers tried to teach us all as children: empathy and kindness. I remember my first day working at UPCS as a sub: I was nervous and not so sure I was cut out for this line of work. I didn’t know anyone in the building and the students looked right through me; they had seen my kind come and go. Dishawn didn’t play this game. He came up to me with his hand out and said, “Hi, I’m Dishawn, what’s your name?” I was certain he was going to try and run some game on me, but he just stood there and talked to me for a few minutes, told me some ins and outs of the building that I have found valuable to this day, and helped break some of the chill I felt on that first day. When the bell rang and he was late, he asked if I could get him a pass, and I laughed and thought, “well, you got me”. Every day I have been in that building Dishawn takes a moment to address me with respect and friendship – he was the first of many to do so, and this is the reason he was the first Senior I signed up to write about. If Dishawn is anything, he is someone that can help you feel seen with his empathy.
The last day before our Holiday break, Dishawn came into my classroom and asked to speak to me. He gave me a card that he had made. It was handwritten, sloppy, and short. It read: “Mr. B, you’ve made this school a better place because you tell people what makes them special. I can do that too!” He sat there as I tried not to cry and told me about all the people he was going to go and make happy that day, simply because he could. Later, I asked those same people if Dishawn came to them with kindness, and they all said, “Yes, it was the sweetest thing,” and they smiled ear-to-ear when they said it.
Dishawn, your gift is truly special, and the world needs that kind, good light. Go and shine it on all of the people you can! Good luck to you, sir; the things you touch will end up touching you!