Lately my wife Katy and I have been "fixing up" a house. New paint, carpet, tile, light fixtures, deep cleaning, etc... It has been so rewarding to watch our progress. We remember what it looked like and smelled like in the beginning and have worked hard to develop it into the end product that we pictured in our minds.
This isn't something we get to do very often. Not fixing up a house but getting to see a whole project come together. As educators we rarely get to see the end product. My wife works with college students and I with middle schoolers and although they are not "fixer uppers" (I guess some of them are), they are still developing as young men and women. Yes we remember what they looked like (and smelled like) when they came to us and yes we are able to see some progress. Unfortunately, we rarely get to see the final product as the students are still developing as they move on to the next stage in their lives.
I can speak from experience and say that the feeling you get when you create something from start to finish is rewarding, whether it be fixing up a house, knitting a scarf, making a video, writing a book, making a craft, etc... However, it is only a fraction as rewarding as getting the opportunity to see a successful student that you have poured your life into.
Being educators (or parents, pastors, managers, supervisors, mentors, or any leader really), we rarely get to see the fruits of our labor. But when we do, it sure makes all the time, effort, and energy worthwhile and fuels us to continue to work with the students we have, while we have them.