If you pick up the newspaper, most of the first 10 pages are filled with doom and gloom. Even heartwarming stories about people making a difference are few and far between. Our economic woes are worsening. More and more people are without employment. The drug and alcohol epidemic continues to be infectious. Violence continues to be a leading strategy for conflict resolution among people of all ages.
Our social landscape is very troubling. Despite those struggling facts about our world, there still is hope.
On a beautiful Friday afternoon in May, a young social studies teacher was walking with his beloved, who is also a social studies teacher, in the Love Gardens in Westbury.
They were walking and talking about their careers as educators, about their students and about their future plans. All of a sudden, the young gentleman stops his beloved and says: "LM, will you marry me and spend the rest of your life as my partner and soul mate." The tears came streaming down her cheeks as she uttered with great joy, "yes, I will marry you and spend the rest of my life as your partner and soul mate." The young couple hugged. The people who witnessed this wonderful moment started to clap and cheer. They were so excited, so filled with emotion!
This story is worth telling, because it is a story about love, challenge and triumph. It's a story about two young people who are determined to make a difference in education and in the lives of their students. It's a story about love and romance that is grounded in genuine affection and respect for each other.
Their story begins in graduate school, in a social studies methods class. They sat next to each other and just started talking. They did some group assignments together and started to stay after class to continue their conversations. After weeks of connecting, talking and texting, KB asked LM out. Their first big date was Starbucks on campus after class. That Starbucks date began a wonderful adventure that led to their engagement in May.
Our future bridegroom and bride were raised worlds apart from each other, but have so much in common. At 16, KB left his house because of the chaos and dysfunction all around him. At that moment, he never dreamed of graduating high school, never mind college, graduate school and becoming a fully licensed special-education and social studies teacher.
After leaving home, life was very difficult for KB. He found a community that took him in and treated him like family. He now had a family system that supported him as he attempted to spread his wings and chart his life course. He tried new things. He loved music by temperament, joined the varsity football team and played well. He graduated from a new high school and was accepted into a liberal arts college.
As a freshman in college, he thought he wanted a career in music. Thanks to his mentor in his life and his passion for history, he decided to become a social studies teacher. That decision changed his life forever. It opened a door to learning that has never shut since that day. He is creative and engaging. He has developed a strategy to engage the difficult to engage high school student. His students feel challenged and empowered. It is refreshing to see him in action and to listen to his students feedback.
His beloved comes from the heartland of our nation. She was raised in a traditional tight knit family. Her parents are well-educated and professionally very successful. Her passion to make a difference comes from the family that gave her life. Initially, she wanted a career in criminal justice, and then she began to think about influencing high school students on their journey. She too, possesses a passion for history and learning. She went to graduate school for secondary education with a concentration in social studies and special-education.
Their common interests and similar passions became the foundation of their relationship. They started to spend more time together. They spent hours talking about history, about politics, about the state of American education, and more importantly, how it can be changed and made better.
They both have the same moral compass and values about family and the importance of building a positive mutual relationship with each other that is grounded in a profound respect for one another. As a couple, they are electric together. They love being with one another. They love laughing and adventuring together.
Being in their presence is a wonderful experience. They're so different and so much the same. The gentleness and tenderness that they share with each other puts their relationship in a very special category. They seem to possess a genuine understanding of each other's heart and soul. They are a couple genuinely grounded in mutuality and real connectedness.
They recently got engaged, not with the intention to rush to the altar, but rather to make a statement to their friends and family that they are genuinely committed to each other and want to grow old together as they enjoy the adventure of living.
We live in a culture where more than 50% of those who marry today will be divorced. Too many love relationships are shallow and superficial. People don't take the time in the midst of all the noise and chaos to get to know each other. They don't slow down enough to smell the flowers and listen with their hearts.
KB and LM have chosen to walk the road less traveled by many of their peers. It has made all the difference in their lives. What is disarming about them is that their relationship is authentic and real. They plan to marry after they settle down in their careers as educators. They have made it clear that their marriage celebration will be nontraditional, but it will be a gathering to remember!