Friday, June 5, 2009

   Today was the last day of actual teaching in my English classes.  Next week is finals week, but today was the last "real" day of school.   It was a mad day- as the last day of school always is,  me and a new batch of 30-or so very hyper fourteen year old girls, hour after hour, putting in our time together until the final bell rings, sounding freedom and promising summer. 
   Each class period I was reminded of the last time I gave my then fourteen year old daughter a slumber party for her birthday.  When morning came, I was exhausted and ecstatic... the party had gone well, and even better, the girls were all being picked up and taken away from my house.  Peace was right around the corner. 
   And I might have felt that way again at the end of this school day and this school year, because fourteen year old girls, all excited and feeding off each other's energy can be tough, but then the last group of girls bounced in.  The last period of the last day of school.  "I  can do this," I thought.  "The day is almost done.  Peace is right around the corner."
   The bell rang, announcing the beginning of the period.  I kept my voice purposefully low to counteract the giddy hysteria building around me; then, I followed my routine and called on the girl whose turn it was to come up and start class with an inspirational thought or quote.  This is always such a calming way to begin the period.  I had faith it would work for me this time as well.  Smiling, the girl came forward. 
   "Today," she said, "the inspirational thought is for you, Mrs. B, for being our teacher and for inspiring us all year."   Then, in unison, in perfect timing so that I knew this must have been planned, the girls let out a chorus of "Thank you, Mrs. Blake."  I admit I got a bit teary, but became even more so when the girls in my class then took turns thanking me and expressing appreciation for things that had happened during the year in class, for the growth they had made, and for the things they had learned.  Some comments were humorous, more were serious and touching,  and all were a gift that I will always cherish. 
   It was a good day, one of those excellent ones that come along from time to time in teaching.  I ended the day feeling inspired by the kindness and goodness of my students, and reminded once again how much those we love and nurture often end up nurturing us.  The peace that I'd been looking forward to, the peace that was right around the corner, flooded into my heart right then and stayed with me the entire day.  
   I love the woman my once fourteen year old daughter has become, and I love feeling the promise of what these fourteen year old girls will be in the future.  My corner of the world is a good corner, and I am glad, most of the time, to be a part of it.