With only four days of our school year left, the goodbyes have begun. Last night we celebrated with our retirees. Of the four, only one is a traditional retiree. She is a legendary teacher at our school. She is usually the first to arrive each day (she is also the first to leave). She gives 100% every minute she is at school, but when family calls she is going to be there. Her retirement plans revolve around family. She has planted a big garden to tend this summer. Another kind of digging she has planned involves her hobby of genealogy, as she tries to uncover the past of her family. (Or as she jokes, digging up dead people!) She is anticipating a visit from her grandchildren and a Hawaiian cruise with her husband. She will be missed at school, but we celebrate with her.
Two of the retirees have had long careers with our district and our school, but they are transitioning into new jobs. One is staying with education and working with an online college program. She is happy about the prospect of working in her jammies and fuzzy slippers if she wants to. Sounds pretty good.
The last retiree was the teacher I shared a “suite” with my first year of teaching. (Actually my little room was a storage room inside her art room. And the suite included a large coat closet- no door-) We have been friends since. She was the “heart” of the school- the keeper of the coffee pot. Everyone would stop by her room for a cup of coffee in the morning and donuts once a week. She is retiring due to health issues. At one point, she couldn’t walk or move her arms. Now she is back on her feet. I’m celebrating with her- she says she now has more good days than bad. We’ll be heading out for a movie and dinner on some of those good days.
I have a lot more goodbyes to go. For the first time, we are seeing a lot of teachers leaving our school this year- usually, it has just been one or maybe two. The final count is not in this year. The ESL teacher who was my mentor in my first year of teaching, the teacher who has shared my ESL/Sped classroom this year (she’s been a little like a daughter- she was born the year I graduated from college!), another teacher and our social worker who have been at the school since before the first year I taught there, and two (possibly more, some are still going on interviews) of our newest teachers are leaving. I am trying to concentrate on the new beginnings they are heading for and to anticipate the new friends and colleagues I will meet when we come back to school at the end of July, to see the celebration in this time. It isn’t easy. (This is the second time I have written about it.) And I haven’t even mentioned the sixth graders who will be moving on to middle school. I’ve known some of these kids for most of their school years! Some of the ESL kids have been my students since they were in third grade (although many who were with me in third grade have now exited from the ESL program, I still see them in the hallways and cafeteria and even in their classrooms when I teach writing lessons). These goodbyes are mostly joyful, part of watching the kids grow. I do celebrate these goodbyes, and I look forward to times when they’ll drop by to let us know how they are doing. (A few always do!)
Even as I try to celebrate the goodbyes, I am looking forward to the big hello later this week…