And it did.
On June 8th, 2012, I said goodbye to my students on the last day of school, for the last time. I have been the Head of the Middle School for two years now, so I had the pleasure of deepening my relationships with all 90 of the 5th-8th grade students, not just one classroom like before. That meant more teary goodbyes to make today.
This morning was filled with cards, flowers, gift cards, money, poems, hugs, and many tears. It was beautiful, and quite difficult. Difficult to leave, to say goodbye, but also to take in all of the love that was coming my way. I was overwhelmed, to say the least, with the display of gratitude, appreciation, and love that was shown to me by my students and their families. I expected some goodbye cards and hugs, but nothing like this.
A large group of parents came in to my room this morning to present the giant card, flowers, and money to me on behalf of the whole middle school. At the end of her humbling and beautiful speech, one of the mother's asked that everyone rise and give me a standing ovation. The whole room of students and parents stood, clapped, hooted, and hollered for me. I stood, rooted to the ground, tears running down my face, smiling, allowing my whole body to fill with the sweetness of the moment. I will never forget it.
I have enough fond memories from that place to keep me warm on every cold, mountain night I may face on my journey. Here is a sampling:
(I'm not entirely sure if it's legal for me to post these. . . let's see)
|Backpacking on the AT|
|Just hangin' around with some kids|
|Cleaning a hiking wound|
|Meeting for Worship at the fire circle|
|Playing cards with the boys at a hostel|
|About to go whitewater rafting|
|Cheering on some students on the climbing wall|
|Silliness with my class|
|Headed to the Solar Decathlon on the National Mall|
|One of my proud graduates - now almost a 10th-grader!|
|More class silliness|
|Teaching warm-up yoga before Language Arts begins|
Today, I received one especially meaningful gift among the many. One of my 6th grade girls wrote this poem for me. I'll end with it here, because there are no words to follow it.
The Gypsy Gardener
I once knew a gypsy gardener
Who wore cool boots.
A nurturer of all life;
Plants, animals, and students
I wandered into her garden
And found her planting seeds,
Peace, focus and compassion
To name a few.
Her sprouts grew on a diet of
Organic brainstorming, practice, and all natural meditation.
She shone on them,
Giving light and warmth
When the seedlings were strong,
Off went the gypsy gardener
To find another sunny spot
To sow her seeds
And hike the hills
In her cool boots