Friday, May 18, 2012

The hard goodbye

Yesterday was my last day teaching for the 2011-12 school year, which also meant my last day as the school's yearbook adviser.  For six years I advised the book and worked with many great students in the process of building a lasting memory.  I am proud of the work we put together and the people who helped make it.  Opportunity and desire led me to a new role for the upcoming year, marking my end at the book's helm.

The year proved to be more than your typical transition from one position to another.  Not only was I professionally transitioning, our home life was too with Jude's arrival.  Doing both in front of students can be uncomfortable.  I knew the first day back after Jude's birth would be especially unique, as most of my staff members had heard about Jude and likely speculated how I might change.

I could feel the eyes of my students follow me as I walked into the classroom.  I never spoke of the situation, nor fielded a question about our home life, but their sensitivity was palpable.  The weeks to follow proved similar as many of my students joined Jude's Trolley Run team to my surprise.  Every time a student joined, at our next meeting, I'd quietly walk to him, extend my hand and simply say "thank you."  They'd nod their head and we'd get back to the book.

It made for the most memorable experience I'd have as adviser.  I really wanted to say thank you to my staff as we wrapped up our last meeting.  Thinking of how so many of them symbolically stood by my son's side and held me when I was weak, I couldn't say much, aside from an acknowledgement of a tough year and my appreciation for simply dealing with me throughout.  I couldn't have said much more without crying before these young men.

I felt the tables turn in my classroom for three months.  When once I thought the classroom to be a place where students could find comfort, it was me finding comfort through the care of my students.  The student-teacher dynamic was always maintained, but I found out a special lesson about the young men who populate my school and their capacity to rise to a challenge.

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