Today is the last day of school.
This day brings mixed emotions: sadness for the people who leave an emptiness in our hallways and in my heart; excitement for summer and time with my son; and anticipation for the next school year.
It’s just a weird time.
It’s a transitional time.
I’m not the best at transitions.
I feel like I should write something profound on this day. Something to tell other teachers that we did it! Alas, my brain and my heart in this moment are in five thousand and one different places.
So, I’ll leave it to the words from a student instead. One of my calculus girls wrote a full typed paged, describing this year. She wrote:
“I was not looking forward to senior year at all…The first day of school came and I was dreading everything about it, the new classes, the new teachers, trying to find a route to my classes, having to make new friends…Then I walked into your classroom and my whole mood changed. There was something different about the room, the class, and even you, the teacher. The more time I spent in the classroom, the more I began to love coming to school again. I never wanted to miss your class because it always brightened my day…
“You inspired me every day to be the best person I can be and to always try to make a difference in somebody’s life…”
Oh, you guys.
I wish I could properly articulate how much her words mean to me.
The thing is–this is exactly my mission. This is precisely what I dream my class would be. High school can be so rough. My goal is to be a bright spot in my kids’ days. Hopefully they have many bright spots. But, in any case, I want our class to be one of those moments of light in their day.
But you know what?
I was starting to think I was crazy for having this dream.
Can we as teachers really impact all one hundred and forty lives in a mere one hundred and eighty days? I’m not a teacher by trade; I’m a mathematician. And the math was telling me I was crazy.
The good news is this: I think I was wrong. I think we really can reach each kid in a meaningful way. I’m not saying I did that this year. I’m saying it’s a valid and perhaps even attainable goal.
Bottom line. Teachers: you matter. We are making a difference. We are being a light for our kids. Maybe we don’t know all the details of all their stories. Maybe that’s ok. I didn’t know everything about this sweet girl. But we don’t have to know everything to give love and light.
And light can’t be contained: only reflected.
So let’s have lofty goals next year. Specific and beautiful dreams for our kids and for ourselves. Because, I’m now convinced, our students pick up on these.
Happy summer, teachers! Thank you for all you do. Thank you for the lessons you teach and the dreams you dream. Together, we’re doing it: we’re helping form a generation who wants to serve and give back to its community. This is no small feat. We have earned our summer.
So. Rest. Relax. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for this. You just moved mountains this year. And–in three months–you’ll have new ones to move.
Thankful to be doing this teacher life with you all.