Congratulations, Class of 2014!

If I were still teaching, today I would be sitting in a coliseum attending my 4th Grizzly commencement ceremony. Graduation was always one of my favorite days of the year. Not only did it mean school was over (party time!!!), but I really loved watching my students step onto the stage (they should know that graduate is a derivative from gradus, gradus m. - step) and into a new chapter of their lives. That hour and fifteen minutes was always filled with such promise, with such hope for what the future might bring.


Today's graduation would have been a particularly special one, because today the first class I would have seen all the way through high school will graduate. Those freshman babies I met on their first day of high school, on the first day that I stepped into that classroom up there and saw a room full of faces staring back at me, are all grown up and ready to take on the world. The first student I ever had to take into the hall for a "chat" will graduate today. The students who made me, an overwhelmed first-year teacher with 4 classes and 5 preps and no help and no time, go home and cry, will graduate today. The student who was never afraid to be who he was, despite was his classmates thought about him, will graduate today. The quiet group of girls who were intimidated being in a class of upperclassmen are now leaders, and they will graduate today. In what feels like an eternity and the blink of an eye all at the same time, that group that had freshly entered high school is leaving it and moving on.

I taught over 300 students in my 3 years in education. As a language teacher (and the only Latin teacher), I was fortunate (or in some cases, unfortunate) that I had students in grades 9-12. I had many students for 2 or 3 years. I watched them grow up right in front of my eyes. I laughed with them, cried for them, worried about them, and celebrated with them. Some I remember, some I don't. Some I liked, some I didn't. Some were absolute angels, and some I'm positive were devil spawn. Some I think about often, some I think about randomly. But as I think about them today, imagine them walking across the stage and receiving their high school diplomas...the straight-A students, the goofballs, the perpetual homework forgetters, the mean girls, the incessant chatterers, the dress code violators, the "What are we supposed to be doing?"-ers, the athletes, the drama queens, the problem children, the "My friend told me this was easier thank Spanish"-ers (sorry dude but your friend is a liar), the kids who barely spoke two words the whole year...I'm proud of each and every one them. I want them to know that they can do anything they want - as long as they're willing to work for it. That a little bit of determination goes a long way. That they don't have to have it all figured out right now. That it might even be better if they don't.

The world has big plans for them, but they have even bigger plans for it.

6 comments :

  1. aww this is lovely! Does it make you miss teaching? I know sometimes when milestones like this come up in my life, it makes me feel nostalgic and a little bit sad. Then I remember why I did what I did... :)

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  2. This is so so sweet! I'm sure you were a fantastic teacher and I'm sure you left a lasting impression on them! :)

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  3. Aw. This gave me goosebumps. I was going to be a teacher, I double majored in English and secondary ed. but the education system in my state went to hell and all the teachers I knew got royally screwed my last year of college. So I dropped out and became an education writer instead. Sometimes I really wish I'd stayed on the teacher track and I think about going alternate route to get my certification every now and then. Anyway, great post :) And I'm sure in your 3 years you made a huge difference in these kids' lives!

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  4. both of my parents are teachers! people ask why i didn't follow in their footsteps and go into teaching too but i saw first hand how hard teachers work.. usually between the hours of 4pm-11pm. this was such a sweet post- i am sure the students loved having a young, hip teacher! i think i just might go back some day and get my doctorate and teach at a college level but that's all just talk right now.. who knows.

    i loved the last line of this post so much-also so true that it's probably better if they don't have it all figured out. If i followed my 18 year old self plan i can tell ya things would look MUCH different around these parts! i am guessing the same can be said for you as well. hope you have a fun weekend. :)

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  5. Love this! I really think teachers have one of the hardest jobs in the world. I subbed for a little while when I was just out of college and confused about my career path and learned that first hand!! And I didn't know you taught Latin - so cool!

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  6. wow you taught latin? so awesome. this was such a great post, sounds like you were a great teacher!

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