I read the announcement and my heart raced and tears came to my eyes. A former, beloved principal, Bob, always said, “change is part and parcel of all we do”. I’m pretty good with “go with the flow” and change, but this announcement halted my forward thinking and threw me in reverse.
You’ve always been there. For 28 years, we shared the same building. We’ve have shared countless meetings – faculty meetings, teacher research meetings, Primary Voices meetings, Diners meetings, and simply, writers meetings. We many not have ever shared a grade level or even been buddy classes, but we sure have shared a lot of meetings.
Your name is peppered throughout 28 years worth of journals. Your your questions, your struggles, your wise words recorded in snippets.
Hired in 1992, at age 21, I looked up to Leone, and Marianne, to Angie and Sheldon, to Lynn and Mary Sue, to Karen and to you.
Lucky for me, our teacher research group started when I was a baby teacher. My journals reflect my infant years. It was in those meetings where I was able to listen to the stories from your classroom. It was in those meetings where I began to learn about and from you.
I learned from you and Linda that buddy time did not have to be planned by the teachers. You enlisted the genius of your 4th graders to plan for buddies. This seemingly simple idea seeped it’s way into my teaching, into my vision of myself as a teacher.
I learned from you that a journal can bring all the parts of our lives together. The life we live at home with our families and the life we live at school can and should inform and energize each other. This idea was revealed to me throughout our journey to publication in Primary Voices. It wasn’t until I became a parent that I experienced this and let it change me.
I learned from you that collaboration is essential to teaching and learning. A self proclaimed introvert, you made it an effort to attend so many COTL meetings, Diners meetings, and most recently Teachers Who Write meetings (not to mention present at NCTE). You made it a point because you live what you value.
I learned from you (and Liz) to keep my mouth shut. That introverts listen better than extroverts. I watched both you and Liz in your quiet. I wondered about that quiet. I wondered what would happen if I tried it out. I held my journal, I listened and I wrote what I heard. Listening and learning from each other, and especially children, is at the heart of teaching and learning. I watched and learned from you.
There aren’t many people that can say they’ve taught with someone for 28 years – but I can. I can say, not only have I taught with you for 28 years, I’ve learned from, and alongside, you. You have modeled the spirit of a curious teacher, always ready to reflect and learn. You have modeled the spirit of a strong human being, who in the darkest hours, was able to look ahead and move forward. So, although we many not be stepping foot inside the same building come August 2021, I will carry that same spirit forward. Thank you.
I wish you nothing but joy as you celebrate each day with your last class. I know you will.
I wish you nothing but fresh air, free time, and no homework on the weekends.
I wish you long morning walks with Farley.
I wish countless, worry free days, alongside Nancy.
Mostly, I wish you days full of discovery and wonder.