On January 1, 2020 so many of us had hope, excitement, and anticipation of what the new year would bring. We made plans, set goals, and dreamed about how 2020 would be better than 2019. We said, “Happy New Year!” to each other and truly meant it.
And then March 11th happened.
The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, and 2020 suddenly looked very different than how we imagined it a few months earlier.
As my students lined up at the end of the day on March 12th, I reminded them, “Remember to study your spelling words tonight. Tomorrow we’ll learn a new cursive letter and we’ll continue working on our famous American project.”
As they left our classroom, they smiled and each one gave me a hug, handshake, or high five. “Have a great night. See you tomorrow,” I said.
At the time, we had no idea that we had just spent our last day together in our classroom. We had no idea how much we would miss a “normal” school day.
My mom retired after 35 years of being an elementary teacher. As she was ending her teaching career, I was beginning mine. I loved sharing teaching stories with my mom. She could relate to what I was going through, and on those really tough days and weeks, I always felt better after talking with my mom.
Unfortunately, a few years after my mom retired, she passed away. I expected holidays and birthdays to be hard without her. What caught me by surprise, though, is how much I missed her as I drove to school. And at the beginning of each new school year, waves of grief would roll in and out.
Now, I anticipate the waves, and instead of them overtaking me, I ride them out. As I drive to school each day, I welcome the childhood memories that come to mind....
We’ve spent the past year together, and while it is time for you to move on to the next grade, know that you will always be my students. I will always care about each one of you, because I have loved being your teacher.
I have loved seeing your smiling faces each day. I have loved listening to the stories you tell me. I have loved laughing with you. I have loved helping you. I have loved seeing your confidence grow. I have loved teaching you. What I love most about our classroom is that I have been able to share it with you.
At the end of every school year, I like to give my students a gift. Over the past 14 years, I’ve given lots of different gifts, such as books, candy, bubbles, and sunglasses. Last year, though, instead of spending lots of money, I spent my time writing tootle notes to each of my students. I was surprised to see how much they loved this gift. It was a simple piece of paper, but it meant a lot to them.
This year, I wanted to do something different, but I also wanted it to be meaningful.
I'm an ordinary introvert who loves an extraordinary God.