Thursday, April 30, 2015

Beginning of an End

I have been putting it off for weeks...okay, months. I knew how difficult this process of moving on was going to be, and so I delayed the first few steps for as long as I could.  Twelve years ago, I could not have imagined all the opportunities, collaborations, the families and friends that my first teaching position would connect me with. I have taught entire families, seven siblings who each had me for high school English. I have former students that I now happily, thankfully call colleagues. I have shared in moments large and small: moments of overwhelming joy at the arrival of college acceptance letters and moments of sorrow at the passing of a friend, or worse, a parent. Former students who bickered in my ninth grade English class are now happily married. I keep a folder of letters and printed emails from students and parents, letters of thanks and appreciation, and I pull these letters out to reread them on the days that try my will-power and patience, on the days that break my heart. And through it all, I call these halls home. It is the home that nurtured me, helped me grow to the teacher I am today.

So I should have anticipated how emotional I would get when I sat down with my principal earlier this semester to let him know that I was starting the process of renewing my Michigan teaching license in order to return to my home state following the close of this school year. Walking out of his office and turning the corner to see the glowing red "EXIT" sign brought me to the edge of tears. This process of moving on, of dismantling what I have built here, is heart wrenching. And I have only just begun.

Today, I shared with my advisory, a group of students that I have been with their entire four years of high school, that I would be "graduating" with them.  We are marking moments together, and I am struck by all the "lasts" that connect us.

As a first-year teacher, you focus on firsts: the first essay you give, first test, the first homecoming dance, the first pep rally, the first prom you attend, the first graduation ceremony, the first time you cry in class or break-up an argument, the first time a student is published. But my advisory students and I are taking time to revel in the "lasts": last assembly, last midterm and last final exam, last Mr. Haverford, and tomorrow night - last prom.

But I am taking a cue from my gregarious group of seniors. This is not a time to focus on what we will miss. Instead, these "lasts" are memories being built. We must live in them so that they live on as we continue on our separate journeys. I will certainly miss my chaotic classroom, filled with laughter and tears, filled with collaboration and creativity. I will miss the students and their friends that pop-in whenever. I will miss these hallways, filled with such supportive colleagues. I will miss this community. But like my seniors, I am also looking forward to the next part of my journey, wondering what new adventures are in store. And like my seniors, I have stories that I will always carry with me.

1 comment:

bj neary said...

I JUST met you and wish you luck but know you will be missed terribly. But luckily with technology we can keep in touch! Good luck!

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