After a horrific fire broke out in Rome, Emperor Hadrian (117-138 CE) was faced with the monumental task of rebuilding the city. In the wake of the tragedy, he allegedly told his people, “Brick by brick, my fellow citizens, brick by brick.”

He knew that with time and patience, the empire would be restored to its former glory—step by step, little by little, one brick at a time.

Three of our students have begun to rebuild the foundations of their cities. This past week, Felicia, Gabriella, and Carlos earned their way back into the regular classroom. Dating back to last school year, Carlos has been with me for twelve months, Felicia has been with me for nine months, and Gabriella has been with me for seven months. Despite the nature of the classroom, we had all developed a special bond. They might not admit it because it’s not cool or hip or the popular thing to do, but I know they felt it. The last year was more than just a behavior class to them. It was a little bit like home. A place to find refuge and peace. A place to cry and laugh. A place to be yourself. And while I’ll miss the memories we made together, I was so proud to watch them walk out my door. They taught me so much about life and love, and I’ll forever be grateful.

They will move on and continue to build their empires, and likewise, we will move on and continue to build our own. There are more foundations to be laid and walls to be constructed; more roads to be paved and statues to be carved. We won’t lose sight of the bigger goal. We will push forward, mix the concrete, and get to work.

Student by student, brick by brick.


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