Not Yet but Someday

Some kids are just not.

They are not the most academically gifted students. They are not the most physically attractive. They are not the most athletic, outgoing, well-behaved, popular, polite.

“Some kids are just not.
Or maybe, rather, some kids are just not yet.”

I teach music. Some of those not yet students who do not fit a typical mold are creative types who need an outlet. I provide that outlet. I see those students in a way their academic subject area teachers may never see them. I see buds and blossoms where other teachers may see messy branches that will not conform into a neat image that can be standardized, as if students were box hedges rather than wild growing shoots and reeds.  

In my twelve years of teaching, I can think of two such students. One boy with a voice too high and soft for his man-sized frame. Often the object of ridicule, until in his fifth grade year when he opened up and sang in a perfectly clear soprano voice and shut the mouths of all his naysayers. He went on to follow musical dreams that his family could not have afforded.  His voice grew to match his form, and his not yet became his right now moment.

Another boy was a teacher’s nightmare. Disrespectful, sometimes violent, eventually he had to be removed to a behavioral class. That small group of four similar boys tested the strength of my nerves and the strength of my drum heads when they asked to play each week. But this one in particular had a gift that no one else recognized. When all other fifth graders had visited middle school to try out different instruments with the new band director, he did not get to go. I set up a one-on-one tryout for him and the band director. I knew if this kid was going to rise up out of his circumstances and choice patterns, music was the wave to lift him above it all.  

A few weeks ago, I was once again leading a group of unruly fifth graders over to meet the middle school band director. This student came down from the stage and hugged my neck.  “Mrs. King, I’m in a band with real gigs and everything. I get paid to do this now!” 

Back then – not yet. Today – right now.

Teaching is for people who see potential. Teaching is for visionaries. Teaching challenges a person to look past the difficulties that a student brings to the classroom each day and see his or her “not yet . . . but someday.”


Joanna King, M. Div.
School Testing Coordinator, Music Teacher
Purvis Upper Elementary School
Lamar County School District

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