Rascal Flats recorded a song titled “I’m Moving On” back in 2002; which has been playing in my mind lately. You see, once in a great while, a teacher gets the honor of being a part of the life of one, two or even three students. I am one of the lucky few (teachers) who has enjoyed this privilege.
It’s a tricky situation in this ever changing society. I grew up in the world of two distinct groups in school. It was them vs. us. Teachers vs. Students. There was no intermingling. A student never thanked a teacher during graduation nor did they invite them to their home for any type of family celebration. Teachers took the indifferent approach to grading and curriculum development.
Then I moved to small town, USA. This is the place Mayberry is modeled after. It’s amazingly simple; yet, aggravating at the same time. …Everyone dies famous in a small town (Miranda Lambert). I teach in an environment which is opposite of the kind I previously mentioned.
I’ve been teaching English for grades 7-12 since 2003. My little 7th graders are now graduating and I feel… sad? No. Bereft? Not really. Happy? Not that either. It’s just…. different. I wonder where the time went. I watched them grow up. I listened to stories of heartbreak. I worried when they started driving. I now get to watch them walk out to their future and I sigh. I hope they find the answer to their prayers… I want only the best for them and they always manage to say “… Don’t you worry about me. I’ll be fine Mrs. Ellsworth.”
I wanted to be a teacher who was memorable. I found a niche that I figured was appropriate. Instead of flesh color bandages, I always stocked up the cute brands. If these kids got a paper cut, or anything that required a bandage, it was me who gave them the choice of Barbie, Hello Kitty, Star Wars, Despicable Me or Snoopy. They would shake their heads as they chose one of mine. But they still come to me. I’m the only teacher who does that. I want them to know I care. I am a teacher who cares (not the sappy Hallmark card kind).
I have navigated them through Shakespeare, Adverbial Clauses, MLA formatting and Poe. They have self-published and written Poetry books. They moved up to the rigors of Personal Anthologies and college applications. We both lived through the PSAT, ACT, GRE and ASVAB.
I can tell you who struggles with long winded research projects, and who always forgets to put their last name on their assignments. I know who suffers through having parents on welfare and prosecutions which make the environment anything but nurturing. I know who has access to the gadgets and gizmos without questions asked. I know who can drive huge tractors and “hay” for summer cash. I know the ice cream shop employees and the grocery market carry-out teens. I know that when a scary movie or haunted house comes out, a select few of my darlings will be the first in line.
That’s just it. I know them! And they are moving on.
I was asked today “Who’s going to be my replacement? I know I’m one of your favorites and I always wonder who will replace me…”
I replied with “I don’t think that you are replaceable… (sigh)… None of you are.” Thus the topic of today’s post.
These days, these kids, these little offerings… These are the things that I will hold on to and remember. They are moving on and I am standing still. Given that I am only one of few teachers who know these kids, I know that this is the best time of their lives.
They will return home to their families and tell of new experiences. Their parents will always have an open door policy for their children. That’s what you do when you’re a parent. The kids are yours forever. Their time with me is done.
There are a few girls in this group who have managed to capture my heart. We have all grown-up together (so-to-speak). They are so fun and grounded. They smile with their eyes and make me find the energy to grade that last pile of tests. They take criticism and offer their own criticism (freely). They have taught me so much about cell phones, apps and web-based editing software. They are my favorites and teachers aren’t supposed to have favorites. These young ladies are already successful in academics and are planning to attend honors programs in the best universities of our state. They are moving on.
They are moving on.
They all are moving on, without me.
Who’s gonna buy them cute band aids?