This weekend has been an odd one and it’s Sunday night.
The last two days, we’ve gone to our first graduation parties of a former students. It’s fun to go and celebrate this accomplishment with them. When they walk out of our building as end of the year 8th graders, they are gone to us unless we are actively involved with high school things. Both of our daughters are graduated, so we are the “old people” any more because there’s just not that much for former parents to be involved in. Between that and Covid, we didn’t leave the house much during the school year, and rightfully so. A role model is one who does the right thing, even when no one is watching. We wore our masks, kept our distance, and I know we missed out on some things, but by and large, got through the bulk of the pandemic.
A shout out to both of these seniors, the one senior whose party we missed, and the five more we’ll go to over the next two weekends. They are athletes, smart people, family, and while I didn’t teach all of them, they are deserve the respect and honor as they’ve completed a huge part of growing up. Whether or not they go to college, into the military, or into the workforce, these next few days are about them. I’ve written this before, but this year’s senior class was one of the best basketball teams I’ve ever coached. I wished they’d stayed together, but the party today was for the leader of that group. Yesterday’s party, for one of fun students in the class we got to know better as we volunteered together at the local food bank during the spring and summer of last year. He’ll got to Iowa State into mechanical engineering. Friday night, I was tweeted at by a former student (a NYC lawyer) who thought it was wild that her sixth grade teacher liked a tweet of her about being drunk on train. Needless to say, all of these encounters make me smile because the go back to building relationships. Middle schoolers need these relationships, often times for then they need to content. They need to know we care, we’ve got their back, and that when they screw up (and they will), that we won’t just tattoo them to the wall.
The melancholy part comes from me going out to work this afternoon at school. I’m going to try to check out and walk out of the damn building on Tuesday.
Really, I am. But as I’m cleaning and doing things, I step across the hallway to the empty room where my teaching partner of 22 years used to be. Her room was empty as Friday was her last day. I was a sniffly mess for the rest of the time out there because it’s not going to be the same. Yes, change happens and yes, you can’t stop it, and yes, sometimes, it’s a good thing. It’s just not going to be the same. Today, after the above mentioned gradation party, we stopped for some groceries, and another former student checked us out. She’d changed schools, but remembered me. Her name was on her name tag, so I called her by name and she was just so surprised I “remembered her”, which was adorable. My wife and I enjoyed the interaction, but getting into the car to drive home, I couldn’t tell any of my current co-workers, they’d not had this girl in 8th grade. And those who had, were now gone.
That connection is broken and that just makes me sad. Change happens. But the school I knew is changing, teacher by teacher. This summer is needed for any number of reasons, but most of all, to think about what I need to be walking in for next year. I’m not a leader or that kind of leader, so don’t get any funny ideas! And because I know one of my co-workers reads this drivel, I’m not the team captain either! 🙂 I just need to figure out what WILL I be. Our teaching staff will be stretching pretty thin, with all of us teaching new things. How do I support my team, my middle school going forward? No, I’m not the administrator, but he’s stretched pretty thin too, so it’s up to us to find that way of pushing on AND making sure we are doing the best we can for each other.
I can think of no better way of honoring our students (who need us) and the teacher who have retired by looking into myself and seeing what I can do better. How can I serve those around me? How can I be better for those around me? How can I put myself out there for those around me? All are questions that will keep me up this summer! 🙂
Melancholy celebrations. How in the world did I ever get here?? 🙂
You aren’t wrong there! ♥️