I know that graduation from high school is a time for celebration for the students, their families, and their teachers and friends; but for me this year it was particularly hard, being where I am...
There was Emily who wouldn't come to school each morning when she was in fourth grade because she was afraid to leave her mom and every morning we dealt with that and got her to school, even if she didn't say a word the whole day long. Last night though she spoke loud and clear in front of a stadium of people as the senior class president. I know I touched her life in some way, even if I don't know exactly how.
Then there were the three girls from fourth grade, Sammy and Chelsea which I always called by the other's name and Alicia. The three of them were inseperable and chatted and chatted and chatted none stop. Last night Chelsea achieved many awards and addressed the audience as Salutatorian of her class. She was poised and dignified; a perfect lady. There was Sammy who also addressed the audience as a class representative. Her words brought tears to my eyes even though I was so proud of her. And Alicia who is going to school to become a nutritionist - the one job I know for sure will suit her well and something that she loved even back in fourth grade. I know I touched the lives of these girls in some way, even if I don't know exactly how.
Then there is Christoper. Teachers flat out lie if they say they don't have a favorite student. They try not to but there are always certain students who pull on your heart strings a little more than others. I had Sammy Jo his sister in fourth grade. She had broken both of her legs and we dumped her out of her wheel chair going down the hill to the classroom. That was also the year her parents got divorced. Chris and Sammy Jo both had a hard time in middle school... gee wonder why, and then they came to me at Visions - they needed to get promoted even though they didn't have the grades. I knew they had the ability and knowledge and put them in their proper grade that year. I have never regretted that decision to help them graduate with their age appropriate peers. But Christoper has always been a favorite of mine, he new it and he played that card often. He could joke around more than other students and get away with it because of his unforgetable smile and his at the moment sincere apology. He worked hard in seventh and eighth grade and brough many, many happy moments to my life. Last night he walked across that stage and is going off to join the Boarder Control. They better take care of my Christopher; his mom may have given birth to him and raised him, but he stopped work at Wendy's to come sit in my lap and say hello just because it was important to him. Did I in some small way change the course of these kids lives? I know I did, but I don't know how.
Then there was Cody who I had in fourth grade - who literally is responsible for at least half the grey hair on my head. He wouldn't do a darn thing in school. He was smart and capable... it was just that no one was going to tell him what to do. I don't care if I had stood on the table and jumped up and down - nothing would have moved him. I have worried over Cody the last 8 years... but last night he walked across that stage. I don't know if anything I did helped that young man along his journey to independence but I sure hope it did.
Then there was Alix. I taught her for three years, sixth, seventh and eighth grade. She never did any but her absolute best. She graduated eighth grade as our Validictorian. I remember I gave her a dozen yellow roses because that is what my mom whould have done. She achieved high academic success in high school and will go on to college to be an Accountant. I know that I touched her in some way, even if I don't know how.
Then there is Michael. I had him in fourth grade and never heard another word about him. I remember when his younger brother died in a quad accident. I remember teaching the day of that funeral and knowing I needed to be somewhere else. He walked across that stage last night no longer to small boy I remember; but as a young man, tall and strong. I know I touched him in some way, I just don't know how.
Then there was Marcos. I waited three years to teach him. He was supposed to be in my class in fourth grade, but his parents moved him to Visions that year. I always teased him in sixth, seventh and eighth grade that I had to change my whole career path in order to move to that school and be his teacher. The thing is I would do it all over again. Marcos was always quiet and respectful; it was in his up bringing. But when he spoke you listened because what he said was always worth hearing. He walked across that stage last night and will attend of year of college before heading out on his mission. Did I touch his life - yes. Do I know how exactly - a teacher never does.
It was a shining moment for me though when both Christopher and Marcos had a bottle of sparkling cidar which they open and shook about... that is what we did when they left eighth grade and moved on to high school.
So although it was a celebration for their successes and futures. It hurt me deep down inside because at least for now there are children I don't get to work with, I don't get to teach. I miss that part of my life desperately and last night although they wre all happy I cried myself to sleep. Today, I cried and slept and cried and slept... not so much for them, but for what I no longer am.