The last day of school is tomorrow, and it's honestly the most bittersweet feeling I think I've ever felt. I am so sincerely ready for a break, to just answer to "Kayla" for a while, to recharge and revive. At the same time, I will miss my kids. And I will always think of them as my kids.
I wish I could put into words all that I've learned this year. I'll try.
I've learned to never underestimate the power of a hug. I've learned the importance of free and reduced meal programs in our schools. I've learned what it means to love a child as if he or she were your own. I've learned what it means to give of yourself freely, no strings attached, until you can give no more...then dig a little deeper and give that, too. I've learned how to look neglect and abuse in the eye, fight back the tears, put on a smile, and let those babies know they are so, so loved. I've learned how to get out of my comfort zone (or be thrown out) and do the best I can with what I have where I am. I've learned the meaning of grace. I've learned what it means to be love in action, to be the hands and feet of Christ.
It's no secret in the community that I live in that I work in a difficult place. When people ask me about school and get an off-the-wall story in return, they (generally well-intentioned) either: 1- apologize, 2- ask if I'm looking for something else, 3- assure me that I'll find something else soon, 4- all of the above.
Then they ask if I plan to stay where I am, and I say yes, and I see one of the following looks in their eyes: 1- pity, 2- concern, 3- confusion, 4- writing me off as an idiot.
Keep in mind, these are people who love me dearly and whom I love; these are people who truly have my best interests at heart. Most days, I don't scare them with my stories (which are 100% factual- you can't make this stuff up, people)...I humor them (and myself) with a conversation that looks like this:
Person: "So, Kayla, how's school going?"
Me: "Oh, it's going! It's crazy and different every day, but I love it. Never a dull moment!"
Person: "Well, that is great!"
I love where I work and have no intentions of leaving. These kids are mine now, and I can't imagine leaving them. I do these things not because I want a trophy for it, and certainly not because there is a large paycheck involved, but because I love my children and it's the right thing to do. I do these things because I know what it's like to have a 1st grade teacher who changes your life- I had one. I do these things because I've learned what it is to believe and live the phrase, "to whom much is given, much is required." I do these things because I've been called, and now that I've answered, hanging up doesn't seem like the appropriate response ;)
What have you learned this school year?