Friday, June 6, 2014

Class of 2014, here's to you

I started teaching in January 2009.  It was the middle of the school year, and I was thrown to the wolves filling my 8th grade classroom.  I was terrified and still have no idea how much I was able to actually teach them about English.  But I survived, I loved my kids, and I was coming back next year. 

So that August, I started changing my classroom, my plans, my procedures...and preparing for my true first "first day of school."  Again, I was terrified.  But it was so different getting these kiddos from the very beginning and having them all year long.  

These kids--my first full year's group of students--are pretty stinkin' incredible.  As a group, they have more athletic ability than I had seen.  They are also some of the funniest humans on this planet; there were no dull moments and a whole lot of giggles.  Even then, they dreamed big and thought outside of the box.  And they definitely kept me on my toes.  We made so many memories and had so much fun.  I hope I was able to teach them.  Because they taught me so much about teaching, patience, counseling, love, hard work, and deciding what's really important.  

Teaching remediation these past few months has given me the chance to reconnect with and see so many of them, and that has just been fantastic!  I have loved having all those little strays in my classroom again :)  Plus, getting to see how much they've changed and grown and matured is just impressive.  

And tonight, I get to cheer for them as they walk across a stage and receive their diploma, awarding them for 13 years of dedication and learning.  I will probably be weepy, and I will probably be more emotionally cheesy than I should (we'll blame some of that on the preggo hormones...maybe?).  But regardless and most definitely, I will be oh so proud!

Sadly, tonight will also hold a heavy place and an empty chair as we celebrate the class of 2014.  The loss of Jamarcus is still fresh and his absence has left a very large hole.  But I believe with all of my heart that he is dancing with the angels, laughing with Jesus, and living

SO my precious children...let's take it back to my day and dear old Mr. Feeney for one last lesson, shall we?

This scene has always touched my heart (and made my eyes leak...)--because to me, it captures the most important lesson in life.  I am beyond proud of you and so honored to have been a part of your educational journey.  I pray that you learned something in my classroom.  I would be thrilled for those lessons to be of the English language and writing and grammar; but what would make my heart sing more would be for you to look back and know that you learned the value of yourself; that I believed in you with every ounce of my being; that you are capable.

So my dear students, my only hope for you is to not only do well in whatever endeavors you face, but more good.  Do good.  And know that you have the ability to change the world.

You make my soul smile.  And you will always be my kids.
Go do great things and make me proud!
All my love and best,
Mrs. Newby

"Your task: to build a better world," He said,
I asked Him, "How?
This world is such a large, vast place, 
So complicated now;
And I so small and useless am,
There's nothing I can do."
But He in all His wisdom said,
"Just build a better you."

Be good.  Do good.
Live and love well!

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