Thursday, June 6, 2013

What I've Learned

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?