[The following is a guest editorial from Philip Rafferty, a US History teacher at Jefferson High School.—eds.]

It is that time of year again: parent teacher conferences. I just spent the last two days engaged in dialogue with the parents of more than half of my 140 students. The days are long. I teach at Jefferson High School, a school that has a been a stronghold for the black community since the civil rights movement. We are an inclusive place that does right by our students, as evidenced by our graduation rates.

Conferences came a day after the results of the 2016 president election. This year as parents approached me, at a table in the school’s cafeteria, the concern for their student and student’s future was all the more based on the uncertainty of times ahead. Nearly every conversation came around to what can we do for our students. Black parents, LGBTQ parents, Hispanic parents, white parents, every parent shared with me their stories and concerns.

What was true of the hundreds of minutes of talking with parents and students was the overwhelming humanity that brims over and pulls us together in trying times. I had nothing but good news to share with these people about their kids. I told every one of them about the what I experience every day in the classroom where students are thinking, talking, communicating with each other about justice, community, and what they can do to make this world into the place it should be.

The 48 hours following the election of Trump has filled me with hope for these young people and because of them. I have seen students engage in an entire school sit in. I have seen people come together to talk and process in a way that I haven't seen in my lifetime. I have seen massive protests in my city shut down I-5, and the streets fill with the feet of marchers gathering their collective strength. In a world of iPhone distractions and headphone tune-outs, I have seen students put away the electronic devices. In the two days following the elections results, students in classrooms have turned toward each other to talk about what just happened and what will happen in the months and years to come.

The times ahead will be trying. We have already seen a desire by the incoming administration to shake up the momentum of the previous administration. But these are a time of great hope. Our young people are smarter than ever. They are more informed and organized, because of the technology revolution, than I could have ever imagined. They are eager, passionate, and incredible. They know their education has never mattered more. The young people of today are not the divided electorate, but rather a smart unified pulse at the heart of this democracy. Those that fill our high schools are the changemakers of tomorrow. I told this to parents, I tell it to myself, I see it, and I just thought you should know.