Monday, April 15, 2013

saying goodbye to the cutest school ever

Today was my last day of student teaching. I've been on tenterhooks for the last week as the pressure builds over the pending exit interviews [which I'm probably blowing way out of proportion], getting the portfolio done and looking better than presentable and making sure it has everything that it could possibly need. And then some. Like knowing the answer to what my personal philosophy of education is and what the last three books are that I've read.

I thought about it over the weekend, wondering at the tears, and I suppose if I was going to be honest with myself, some of this is misplaced and unexpressed grief finding a convenient outlet. I had a wonderful experience, which made leaving harder. Through the midst of all of this, I have been trying not to grieve, hoping that maybe it would make getting through to the end easier if I wasn't a basket case until after everything was over.

Unlike the stories we read where the characters come to some kind of event terminus, there just doesn't seem to be a foreseeable end; I'm done student teaching, but there's the exit interview. I have an out of town guest this weekend. I have to start the paperwork for the state and subbing [hopefully]  in the immediate future. There can be no summer vacation. Not this year anyway. Maybe I'm putting too much pressure on myself to achieve.

If I cry, I want to be alone or preferably around someone I trust. Crying doesn't happen at convenient times. Lately, it's been blasted inconvenient. I don't know what this "waterproof" mascara is about, but it's a lie. Or my tears are acid.

I do not think this would hurt so much if it were not so close on the heels of death. I just said a permanent goodbye to someone I love. If you're going to argue semantics with me, as a Christian, yes I believe in the resurrection of the dead so according to my tenants of faith, yes I'll see my grandfather again. How exactly that's all going to work itself out, I can't quite wrap my head around, and I'm happy for it to stay a divine mystery. So there. Still, all of this goodbying is too much, too close, too fast.

So I'm a little verklempt when, at the end of the day there's half an hour left after I read the kids a book and I'm kicking myself because I didn't have my act together this weekend for crying and portfolio putting together and I couldn't make two dozen cupcakes to say goodbye [I saw cupcakes earlier in the kitchen and was pissed at myself for not getting my act together], or at the very least, have a sufficient amount of material planned for the rest of the day. But wait, those of you 1st graders that know what's what have done a great job keeping it a secret, says Miss Honey. [what secret?] Those cupcakes from the kitchen were for us. Funfetti with sprinkles. But wait, there's more. Back way before Easter, Miss Honey was [I thought] picking out a bag for herself from a catalogue, and she started asking me which one I would pick if it was me buying the bag [tricksy hobbit]. We're both of the opine that one can never have too many bags. I almost ordered one that day but decided I'd wait until she had hers to see what the fuss was about. Turns out that bag was for me, and she had stocked it full of just about everything I'd want to start my own classroom. And an owl mug for school; what every smart teacher needs. Probably the best thing inside that bag was a book that the kids put together telling me what their favorite thing was that they had learned in school that I had taught them. The owl mugs rates a close second.

As I drove off today, and gave the place one last look, I thought about the first time I'd been inside the school. The first time I saw the school wasn't the day I met Miss Honey [I got lost trying to find the place]. The first time I saw the school was about this time of year in 2004. I was on choir tour as a freshman in college, still a music ed major, and we were heading for our last venue on a Monday night such as tonight; April, high sixties, chance of rain. It was still early in the day, early enough that school hadn't let out yet, and we'd been winding around in a tour bus in a corner of the world completely foreign to me. I happened to be sitting on the driver's side. I happened to look out my window as the bus hit a straight away going up an incline. And I saw this elementary school and I thought, "Oh, my God. That's the cutest school. Ever. I mean ever. I bet everyone just loves working there. I bet I'd love working there. How great would it be if I could do my student teaching there?" Well, hold the phone. Life doesn't work like that. No one from as far north as I went to school gets placed that far south. Just doesn't happen. And no one looks at a building out in the middle of nowhere and says, when I'm all done, I'm going to work there. That really doesn't happen.

It is a strange and wondrous world we live in. Almost ten years later, at a different university in a different degree program, I pulled up into the driveway the day I met Miss Honey and my jaw hit my lap. I'd been placed at The Cutest School. Ever. I found out it was every bit as adorable on the inside as it was on the outside. And it was unbelievable great to do my student teaching there.

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