Today is my last day of school/work for the summer! It's also my last day as a middle school teacher. This year has been a challenge...personally and professionally. However, I am a reflective thinker, and over the past week or so I have been looking back over this year and seeing the hidden blessings of it all. Walking into teaching 8th grade after teaching 12th grade was a huge transition! It took me a while to get accustomed to the middle school mindset. 13/14 year olds are interesting creatures. So many ups and downs. Hormones everywhere. They can't sit still for anything! So, so silly....so awkward....so sweet. At the beginning of the school year, I was looking for jobs frantically. After 2 weeks, I was ready to quit altogether. It just wasn't my cup-of-tea. Plus, after staying home with Collen for a year....who could blame me? But, I stuck it out. Job interviews came and went. I would be a final candidate but not the final choice. After a while, I decided to just focus on my current position and focus on these kids. There was obviously a reason for me being here, in this place, with these kids, this year. Now, on my last day, I look back over the year, and I am so glad I stuck it out. My kids grew to love me, and I grew to love them. They attach so easily but don't trust so easily. Towards the end of the year, I noticed a shift in them. They had begun to leave their 7th grade attachments and comforts....less and less time was spent wanting to go see their 7th grade teachers....less talk about "last year." It suddenly became about this year and what they would miss. And I was amazed to learn that I was at the top of the list of things/people they would miss. And even more surprising, I realized I would really miss them as well. I make it sound like a dreaded seeing these children every day...haha...I just spent a lot of time being guarded this year. I found it difficult to make connections right away because I was so used to my old school and that community. I already had strong connections there. Here, I was starting over. So, it took some time. But boy did they grow on me. High school can be a scary place...full of so many new and intimidating things. More than anything, I spent this year stressing to them the importance of remaining true to themselves. Not conforming. Standing up for people and themselves. And most importantly, being people of honor and integrity. Respect does not come naturally to a lot of these kids; I learned that quickly. However, they were quick to notice that I was not a typical teacher. They took notice of my patient and calm demeanor....picking up on the fact that I remain calm in the most intense situations...I didn't let much push my buttons (that they could see). From that, I was able to show them the importance of staying level-headed....considering consequences instead of being quick to react. I saw a big change in a few who I thought would be trouble all year long. Yes, they continued to get in trouble, but not in my class. I'm always astounded when I have that one kid who won't work for anyone else, but he/she will work for me...stand up for me with their peers...stay focused and work. No, I'm not a miracle worker. I don't work any magic to make this happen. A lot of the time, I think I just get lucky. All I do is love them and tell them how much I believe in them. It's probably a temporary thing with most, but with some, I hope it makes a lasting difference. I will miss them all (most of them), but the ones I miss the most are the ones I was able to reach. The ones I saw change for the better. The ones who would come see me every morning...just to say hello or get a "have a good day" from me. That's what makes this job so rewarding.
And while my kids want me to follow them to their high schools next year....I'm going a bit farther out of town. I was able to get a position at Ayden-Grifton...where I was before. :) Ayden-Grifton is home. I have a connection there that is so special to me. My best friends are there. That's where I was when I found out I was first pregnant. They were my school family when Ayden was born....where they gushed over his big blue eyes and friendly smile. They were there for us when Ayden passed away. They honored my son beautifully with white shirts and blue ribbons and a candlelit ceremony in honor of SIDS awareness in his name. That's where I was I found out I was once again pregnant. They walked with me, held me up in tough time, fought for me, made sure I was taken care of. They supported me when I told them I needed to take a year off to be a mom....to be able to keep my sanity and not put another child into daycare where I would live in anxious fear of losing another. And even over the 2 years I've been away, they've continued to support me. They sent cards and visited when we lost my dad. They continue to shower me with warm welcomes and hugs whenever I visit....usually followed by, "We need you back here!" So, I am going back home, and although some things have changed....new students will welcome me in the fall....I'm so excited to be going back to a place I love and feel so connected to.
(Told you guys I would be writing again, soon. Thanks for hanging in there with me. I'll try to get to the other updates soon.)