Friday, May 29, 2015

Class of 2015, here's to you

Tonight, my last little group of students gets to graduate.  They've written all the papers and completed all the projects and solved all the word problems and taken all the tests and studied all the study guides and read all the books and learned all the things.  At least they've done all of that that they've needed to complete grade school.  They did it!

This class of 2015 is such a special one.  As a whole, they're kind of a different breed.  Getting my room ready for school to start the year I had them, all I kept hearing were horror story after horror story and warning after warning.  This class didn't really have a middle ground--they had a lot of students who were zealous about school and tried really hard; and they had a lot of students who couldn't have cared less about anything having to do with school.  While making seating charts for day 1, I showed my rosters to some teachers who knew the kids already, hoping to get some help on knowing which ones to keep separated as best I could...she just laughed and hugged me when she saw who all was in my classes together.  Oh boy.

However, those conversations and stories at the beginning of the year about kids I hadn't even met yet gave my heart a stir.  And I resolved right then and there that I was not going to form preconceived notions about these kiddos.  So I told them from the moment they walked in my room, they became my kids...and that with me, they were starting with a clean slate.  And I completely meant it.

We had our fair share of struggles that year--because let's face it, they had earned those horror stories being told about them...  Remember those rosters that made my coworker laugh?  By the middle of the year, I had told my counselor to move some kids out and into different classes or I was out; and I had also  let my principal know that this would be my last year to teach and I was looking for other job opportunities because I just couldn't do this classroom thing anymore.  After a long conversation {full of tears...}, some students moved around, taking some responsibility off my plate (4 preps, DC trip planner, team leader, and more...), and a good long Christmas break, I came back a little less dramatic and a little more renewed to finish out the year.  

Hunter and I had always planned for me to stay home with our kids when we had them.  Starting that school year, we had begun talking about starting a family, but who knew when it would happen.  Well, in February, we found out it had.  Thanks to one of my lovely students who poked my tummy and said, "Mrs. Newby, you gain some weight?  Maybe just 2 pounds? :)"  {I was too shocked and tickled to be upset with her and just swatted her little hand away and laughed}, I went home to take a test.  We were having a baby.  And I immediately knew that this would be my last group of students...

I waited a long time to tell any of them because it just kind of made me sad to think about leaving...  Several came and asked on their own time if I was ok and what was going on, because apparently I was moody and not as happy as usual and tired all the time...haha, yep pretty much :)  Sweet things just wanted their normal, happy teacher back.  

One day when I was about at my wits' end, a very sweet coworker of mine and her daughter (who I had also taught in Reading the first half of the year), made this precious basket for me because they knew I was about to just melt.  It was beautiful and perfect and made every bit of my day better.  And when I brought it in and set it on my desk, one of my precious little Advanced students asked, "but why did they give you stuffed animals?  You don't need those."  I just grinned and the whole class erupted in, "omg are you pregnant?!"  And then it spread like wildfire :)

all of the items in the basket corresponded with a part of Psalm 23
such a special gift

Anywho, that's a lot of story that probably doesn't interest you--but it's a lot of what I think of when I think back on the class of 2015. 

I have a lot of other things I think of too.  I also will always remember taking one of my students, who was letting bad decisions and bad attitudes get in the way, to see one of the students from Erin Gruwell's first classes (Freedom it, you won't regret it.  It's what kept me going on days I wanted to throw in the towel).  I will always remember planning and organizing and preparing for the DC trip, and more importantly touring our nation's history with an incredible group of kids.  I will always remember the feelings of absolute frustration and defeat...that were always followed up by "lightbulb moments" and feelings of "oh, this is why it's worth it..."  I will always remember laughing; oh, they could make me laugh!  I will always remember my little strays and the random drop in visits I would get throughout the day.  I will always remember taking my GT kids to the Holocaust museum.  I will always remember how excited they got about getting stickers for being on time--and how much that cut down on tardies (sometimes it really is the little things...)  I will always remember how it felt to pack up my room and tell all my kiddos bye. to my last day of school...
And I will always remember the lessons I learned from them--patience (oh the lessons in patience!), the importance of second chances, what's really important, how to laugh at mistakes and mishaps, that hard work pays off, to love people when it's hard because that's when they need it most... 

Sadly, I will not be able to see my kiddos graduate this year.  Due to the insane amounts of rain we have gotten this year, they had to move graduation inside, which majorly limited seating.  Please know, my lovelies, that I have been looking forward to this night for you for years.  It makes me so incredibly sad that I won't be there to share this incredible moment with you; but know without a single shred of doubt that you could not make me more proud!

SO my precious more time, 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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