The last day of school is always bittersweet. We all look forward to the restful days of summer that stretch before us, but the last day means we have to say goodbye to some faces we may never see again.
Our 5th graders will be heading off to the middle school next year. For some, our school has been their educational home for the last seven years. For others, it has been stability in a rocky home life. With us, they had routine, expectations, and boundaries. They knew they would be cared for when they walked through our doors.
We have a tradition of gathering at the end of the bus line on the last day of school to wave goodbye as the busses pull away. Students reach from lowered windows to wave back, some smiling, but many sobbing because they will miss the connections they have made with others inside our school walls.
As teachers, we all know that our job is about more than lesson plans, assessment, and learning, although many outside of the educational world think that this is all that teaching is all about.
As teachers, we tend to more than just our students' minds. We also care for their hearts, their character, their consciences, and so much more. We understand that learning cannot take place if a child is hungry, upset, or in need of basic necessities. When talking with others about our students, we call them "my kids" not by accident, but because our classrooms have become a home away from home for all of us. We are a family.
As those busses pulled away and the tears began to flow, I became even more thankful that I get to work in a profession based on so much love and connection. There's really nothing I'd rather do.
For this, I celebrate.