Here I stand at the end of another school year. They go so quickly now, each year seeming to pass faster that the one before. I can honestly say that the passing of time has taught me so much but nothing has taught me more than the loss of those I love.
Over the past few weeks there has been stress, anxiety, anger, sadness and even much happiness. It did not matter what the feeling was I had not been able to pin point the root cause. This weekend, sitting with family and friends celebrating all the wonderful mother’s in our lives, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It is the end of another school year and Glenn is not here to celebrate, be my sounding board for new school year ideas, to listen to my fears and concerns about my senior kiddos leaving the nest, or to tell me to quit fretting. Although, at times I could swear I can hear him say “Pambo just leave it alone”. One of his favorite phrases for me especially at this time of year.
This school year has been rough and rewarding at the same time. Saturday morning I had the pleasure of attending the graduation of 12 of my seniors from our community college as they had earned an Associates of Arts degree PRIOR to their high school graduation. Yes, you read that correctly, twelve young high school people earned 60+ hours of college credit before graduating from high school. Our district is partners with our community college to allow first generation college students this opportunity. It is amazing. This event was really the beginning of the realization of understanding all the emotions from the prior weeks. After realizing what had been the root of all of the feelings this week has began differently. My students even noticed a difference in me as we started the last week of the school year. It aways amazes me how the kiddos can become so important each year. Even when I make a promise to myself that this year you are not going to let them into your heart fully.
One of the big realizations came as I discussed these kiddos with my family on Sunday. These amazing students has been with me since Glenn passed. They became my freshman students in the fall of 2019. Glenn passed in November of 2019. Take a moment and think about what has transpired in our world since 2019.
As these students entered my life that year it was already a stressful time. Glenn had a very rough summer medically and was getting back on his feet when they school year had begun. There was an internal struggle I was dealing with pulling me in two directions. The need to be with my husband and the excitement of beginning a new school year. As always, he was my biggest cheerleader encouraging me to immerse fully into the school year. Thus I jumped in with both feet and took that school year on like a champ – at least in my mind. Three months into the school year I was on FMLA and four months in I had lost my soulmate. This began the relationship with this years seniors.
These students had began their college experience and I had been entrusted as part of the team to help guide them. This was a huge task as I was learning to navigate my own new journey. We all know what began to transpire in early 2020. As the pandemic began to take over we learned just how strong we had built a bond. Somehow we all made it through to the next school year. Through the next few years we would navigate everything from online learning, many deaths in all of our families, celebrating births (my grandbabies, students having babies and siblings) and so much more. We finally made it to senior year. This should be “easy peasy lemon squeasy” as we had said each time we accomplished a task through the years. Were we ever wrong. Many things this school year have challenged us very differently than that little pandemic ever could.
Circle back to Saturday morning as I watched 12 of this years graduating class walk the college stage and the emotions were huge. I was happy and mad all at the same time. When I got home that morning there was an anger I could not shake and didn’t understand until Sunday. Sitting at my daughters home is when it hit me. I am losing the group of students that have been with me through every single part of my new journey.
The end of the school year is always full of emotions. Many educators find themselves asking questions like: Did I do enough? Did my students get the most they could have from this school year? Are they ready to move on? Am I? Each of these questions hits different than typical end of years. The answer to all is YES. Without a doubt.
As we prepare for graduation Friday night I know it will be more difficult than the last years. My “kids” are leaving the nest, moving on to bigger and better opportunities, creating memories, and accomplishing major life goals. The privilege has been mine to share 720 days of the last 1460 of each of their lives. However, now I must handle the next stage in my life as I watch each of them receive their diploma. The senior class of 2023 will forever hold a special place in my heart and life.