We are counting down the days we have left with our RC family (25). I’m excited for summer, but truly dreading the last day of school. I tear up pretty much every day pulling into the familiar bus loop to drop off or pick up. Every time I sign in to volunteer, I know I’m almost at the end. Every time I drive up the street to our school, I’m aware once we’re done, I will have little need to drive that way again. I know it’s time for us to move on. Little Man is ready for his next adventure. We’ve been here for nine years. We’ve had huge wins, and we’ve had some heartbreakingly terrifying moments. Someday, my kids will have to struggle to remember the names of their elementary teachers. For me, they are etched on my heart. They are part of our Herd (whether they want to be or not – Hah!). Since it’s staff appreciation week, I wanted to take some time to thank each and every teacher or staff person who has played a role in my children’s elementary education, which is pretty much everyone at that school.
Mrs. I – I was terrified when Big Man was starting kindergarten. We had held him out to start school a year later than he could, but I still worried he was ready. I needed someone to “get” my baby, to love him, encourage him, not only accept his quirkiness, but encourage it, not stifle his need for hugs and strong guidance. You gave him all of that, and more. When I sat in your classroom for our first parent/teacher conference, you told us the expectations and I stared at you like that was never, ever going to happen. You helped make it happen. You gave us our first hint at what life at RC was going to be. Your humor and sarcasm so in tune with the way our family operates. You not only helped my boy reach and exceed those expectations, you gave me courage, and you loved him. Thank you.
Mrs. S – We were still feeling our way a little bit. We didn’t know any of the first grade teachers, but trusted our guy had been put in the right place. We met you at an exciting time in your life and were so happy to witness your joy. You taught two of my babies, as different as they are. You gave them a safe landing place that was also fun. I loved sitting in the back of your classroom, listening as you taught. Your spirit strong enough to guide energetic boys, yet gentle enough to draw out shy, unsure little girls. You helped both my olders flourish. Thank you for letting us be part of your personal journey, for taking the time to understand our journey, and for always having a hug and a laugh for all of us.
Mrs. L (or Miss F, as we knew you back then) – You, my dear, are so loved. Your heart for the kids and your joy in doing your job are evident every single day. You light up that school with your endless energy. We are SO happy you dream of becoming a full-time, permanent teacher at RC was realized. I knew in those few months of Big Man’s first grade year, you had that thing that makes a teacher special. You gave me confidence in helping kids in the classroom. And I still have the angel you gave each volunteer that first Christmas as you prepared to hand the classroom back to Mrs S.
Mrs B – People said you yelled. They looked at me with trepidation when I told them the Princess had you for her kindergarten teacher. I was a little apprehensive, but that was quickly put aside. You had a challenging class that year, yet you handled it with grace, laughter, strength, and love. My girlie adored you, and she excelled. I will always be grateful for our talks on mothering boys. You helped make me a better mom, along with teaching my daughter how to read and write.
Mrs. L – Oh boy….I have no clue where we would be without you. Between both boys, we’ve been blessed to spend four years in your classroom. We threw it all at you, and you not only took it in stride, you loved my boys. You helped me when I was sure I was losing it. I will never forget the phone call I received while in the middle of the grocery store from you…you calling just to let me know that on the last day possible of the school year, Big Man had reached his reading goal. And that’s just the teacher you are, the person you are. I can’t even…there aren’t enough words. There aren’t adequate words. Love you. And thank you.
Mrs. Ch – Thinking about you makes me smile, and cry. You have such a peace and calm that is infectious. You gave my Princess a safe place to break out of her shell. You understood my precious Little Man, and helped me understand better his needs. You’ve been a fount of advice and encouragement. I will never forget the first day my Little Man gave you a hug of his own volition. We all cried. That you understood what that meant…You have been a gift to our family.
Mrs. C – You continued the work with my Princess Mrs. Ch began – giving her a safe, comforting, loving place to continue to spread her wings and gain courage in the classroom. Being in your classroom just felt warm and fuzzy. That you could manage 32 kids without ever raising your voice, that you recognized the strengths of each child individually and tapped into that, that you do it all with such graciousness and a smile….those are special gifts in a teacher.
Mr. S – Thank you for all you did for our Big Man. You are another who manages without raising your voice, and I don’t know how you do it. Your passion for what you do is so evident. You gave my guy encouragement, helped him learn how to fail and pick himself back up, and that it is okay to be wrong even in front of the entire class. He remembers your words and continues to apply them in the classroom even today.
Mrs. J – You too had the joy of teaching both my olders. Lucky you, especially in back-to-back years. They are so different, and yet you touched both of them, encouraged both of them, understood both of them. You helped us navigate the fifth grade waters, and prepare them for middle school. I hope you’re enjoying retirement. You deserve it!
Mrs. W – Thank you for toughing it out with Little Man. What a brutal year it was for him. I wish we’d known what was coming so you wouldn’t have been blindsided. Yet you loved him through it, saw past the prickliness to the brilliance inside. And with the Princess, you helped her deal with the dreaded girl drama. Fourth grade is so difficult. You helped two of my babies through it, and we all came out the other side. Thanks for putting up with us, and for letting me basically run mini-book-clubs in your classroom with the reading groups. I loved every minute of it.
Mrs. F (Mrs. C now!) – We’ve been friends a long time. Our kiddos have been together since preschool. And you took my Little Man on, accepting the challenge with love and a big smile. You get him, and you helped me so much to see his gifts rather than just his struggles. That kindergarten year was such an amazing year and I’ll never forget it. Love you.
Mrs. A – You had my P for just a couple weeks, and we are so happy we had that time in your classroom. We think you’re an amazing teacher. It’s been a joy to watch you become a mom. Your heart for your work, your love for all your students is so very evident. Every student you teach, for two weeks or a full year, is blessed.
Mr. B – Lucky you to have the joy of seeing our family out the door. Hah! I asked you before this year started how you’d drawn the short straw and ended up with Little Man. You said then you didn’t see it that way. Thank you. You’ve been exactly what he needed this year. I love that you get him. He loves your sarcasm. I truly appreciate your patience and no-nonsense attitude with him. He’s flourished this year under your care. You’ve lived up to, and exceeded expectations.
Mrs. C (speech) – I love seeing you around school, and I did before we ever had any interaction with you. Your smile always seems to be present, and I can’t tell you how that lifts the mood of everyone who comes in contact with you. Thank yo ufor taking my boy on, for understanding his needs, and for helping him with some particular challenges. Thank you for giving him a safe place to learn and work on social and emotional skills.
Mrs. C (nurse) – I love you lady. You’re just awesome. We wouldn’t have survived the last two years without you. Enough said.
Mrs. M (F) – I’ll be honest here..you used to scare me a little bit. That was before I knew you. Your love and advocacy for my Little Man gives you a permanent place in our herd. In those worst moments, when he wanted it all to go away, you were there, helping us both. I haven’t had to fear an IEP meeting for two years now, because you know his needs, and give him what I’m going to ask for before I even have to ask. Our school is so very lucky to have you.
Mrs. M – When we found out we were getting our third principal, we were all a little worried. But you came into that school and did exactly what needed to be done. You’re amazing. Your energy and spirit are infectious. You handle what needs to be handled when it needs to be handled. Your loving care for my littlest gives you too a permanent place in our hearts.
Not to be forgotten – the front office staff L and S. You guys are amazing. Thanks for tolerating us and for all your help over the years. Thank you for laughing with me. Thank you for not laughing when I was having any one of *those* days. Thank you for your gentle care and concern the last nine years. I’m convinced we will never ever encounter a front office staff as capable and fun as the two of you. And Mrs. C (library) – Your love of books and reading has encouraged countless students, including my three kiddos. Thank you for your endless hours connecting kids with just the right books for them, and for all your help with the book fairs.
There. I’m sure I’ve missed someone. Just know, if you’re on, or ever have been on, staff at RC, we love you. It’s breaking my heart to think of leaving those gates for the last time. But you will always be in our Herd. Thank you for everything you’ve done for our family. You’ve been entirely more than teachers and staff.