Well, the final day of my program got out late today, and so after rushing out, I guestimated that I would need to pack in 20 minutes and be on my way to make it to my apartment to pick up the books and meet the parents 45 minutes away.
I rushed, I sweated, and I made it just past 4 o’clock. One family was there. I gave the mom and son the book, and I re-explained the assignment. They were excited to share some summer projects they had been working on, and although Roger groaned when I was explaining the written assignment, his face brightened when I showed him how short the chapters were.
Then, I asked to speak with his mom privately for a minute, and I proceeded to explain to her, “as an independent observer not related to a school,” my honest opinions about what she needed to ask the school to do in the fall. She understood. Then I also had to explain that I wasn’t returning in the fall. I had told the students, but you know how 7th graders are about relaying information. She proceeded to say some of the sweetest things, wished me blessings for the future, and almost had me breaking down in tears.
After she left, I called both of the other parents 5 times, waited 30 minutes, and then went home.
An hour later, (30 minutes into my episode of America’s Next Top Model All Star), my phone rings. It’s one of the moms. I don’t pick up. She calls ME 5 times in a row. After my episode, I called her back, and she’s speaking so quickly I can just make out something about “sorry, work, when can we meet?” So we agree to meet in an hour.
We meet, and I give her the book, and again chat briefly with my student. She asks me, “are you really not coming back?” And I explain, in Spanish this time, my reasons. She also wishes me the best.
This time, I barely made it to my car before the tears started. I think it’s a little similar to how you shouldn’t see an ex once you’ve broken up. Because even though I made the decision to leave the Valley for all the right reasons, there is still a piece of me that can’t believe that I’m leaving my students down here. They gave me purpose, and it was in the classroom where I felt most truly myself. A wistful part of me that doesn’t surface often wishes that I could have acclimated better with my personal life because my school and my students are amazing. And there’s so much need here. So much left to be done.
But I know my new school is going to push me further as a teacher. I’m going to hit the ground running. And hopefully this year I’ll begin figuring out that elusive balance between work and enjoying life outside of school as well. And then who knows, maybe in 10 years, I’ll end up back here, able to have a larger impact on Valley students.
Until then, they will stay in my prayers.
This is part of life, right? Nothing ever turns out perfectly, and you have to choose to emphasize the good.