It's the last day of school and I'm sitting here proctoring a study hall, and I realize this sounds like the beginning of a letter that I might write many of you. In fact, so many of my letters and texts and emails are written to people during downtime moments spent in classrooms...
But although this is the last day of school, instead of celebrating, the students are taking three exams, and I am sitting at the podium in front of a room full of 37 sweating, yawning, sniffling, sighing, exhausted 8th graders. Their homeroom teacher refuses to let them turn the air-conditioning on before 10:30 and so it is "boiling" in here... I'm even dripping onto the keyboard.
Later, after their final test, the students will be forced to clean the school. This means mop all the floors, scrub out the toilets, clean out the desks, and wipe the dust out of the schools cracks and crevices... and before some old grouchy dude says, "Hard work builds character," yeah, yeah, yeah... but they do this thing every day. You know, I just wanted to see some smiles today. That's all. I wanted to see some kids celebrated all that they have accomplished.
So here are a couple of acknowledgements because no one else will recognize these kids at all:
Daisy, you really turned it around this year. You used to be one of the meanest, toughest, most belligerent kids in this school, and I love that you are smiling now and talking to me and saying, Good Morning," and just opening yourself up. You're a beautiful kid!
Tom, you used to destroy class moral. You would curse teachers, punch students, destroy school property, defiantly stare me down during class... and all I wanted was to help you. The way you act now, after all those conversations with you in the hallway, the way you finally are maturing... helping others, being a productive LEADER... I am so proud of you. I want you to know that I see you, every day... and I like what you are becoming.
Kenny, you haven't been able to sit still for two years. You make it a point of pride to disrupt class every chance you get. It used to give me physical pain when I saw you... like being kicked in the stomach, and you loved it. You tested my patience completely... you were rude, senseless, uncaring, and thoughtless... and NOW LOOK AT YOU. You're bringing study materials to class. You're organized. You are acing tests. You've come such a long way. I'm sure such good things are ahead of you.
Eva, after that talk with your parents... when I called them to school and they started screaming at you... that's when I understood. We've been through a lot, haven't we? Thank you for never giving up. Life can be very hard and we are attacked at all sides but forces we will never be able to control... but you've shown grace. I have such confidence in you!
Students... I know I can't list you all, but thank you for these last three years. I wish you nothing but the best.