Teach Houston

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 03 2014

the end of my first year.

I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been too busy living my life rather than writing about it, I suppose, and in some ways, the feelings that the end of the year brings are just too big to be put into words.

The past month’s been full of full-hearted moments. Times when life is just too big and great and beautiful to be summed up eloquently. My kiddos blossomed in those last weeks of school. They gave their final assessment their all, then spent the last week gallivanting around campus with yearbooks to sign and thank-you notes to give and tearful hugs to share. Kids cried on the last day when they have to leave my room. Even the boys. I’ve received more notes than I could count…everything ranging from “You say ‘okay’ all the time and it’s really funny” to “You’re like my second mother” to “You believed in me when no one else would.” I smiled through my tears. I’ve cried more times in front of students in the past month than I had this entire year til now. I’m okay with that.

On one of the last days, we did a words of appreciation activity in my favorite class. And then we ceremonially tore down the posters, til my room was empty and bare and full to bursting with a year’s worth of memories.


The last day of school was everything I could’ve hoped for and more. The kids were just kids in all their messy glory – no uniforms, no real rules, just fun and laughter and love. We had Field Day and the kids mud wrestled each other…and at the end, we all gathered in the quad for one final meeting. I was struck by the sense of beginnings and endings. We’d stood in that quad one muggy morning in August, getting bitten by red ants, as the year got off to a start. And here we were. We made it. The principal announced the start of summer, and the kids threw water balloons at each other, and gave their teachers wet hugs, and the sun shone beautifully.


I couldn’t sum up this year if I tried. I have loved more, laughed more, lived more than at any other point in my life; the sheer exhaustion and aching sense of inadequacy was in the end completely dwarfed by the deep fulfillment of having tried my best at something that matters. I went home last weekend for my sister’s high school graduation (which was exactly like my own graduation). It was full of white kids who were going to great colleges, and parents clapped ceremonially, but everyone knew those kids were going to college anyway. No one’s trajectory was changed. No one had accomplished anything their parents hadn’t already accomplished, or maybe even their grandparents. Don’t get me wrong – it was a lovely ceremony – but it didn’t feel like our 8th grade promotion ceremony. That ceremony was the fulfillment of a promise we’d made to our kiddos. You do your best. We will do ours. The strong will take care of the weak. Together we will move mountains. And as the newly-minted high schoolers processed out, we played “The World’s Greatest” on the sound systems and I sobbed backstage.


This job isn’t sustainable. I know it isn’t. I’ve been tossing around the idea of moving to a new school to be a founding teacher after my TFA commitment is over, but even just this taste of summer (despite being in content leadership PD all day already) has made me realize…as fulfilled as I am by this work, it isn’t enough. If I have no personal life I can’t do this forever. If I can’t breathe at night or relax on the weekend I can’t do this forever. If I don’t have time to play frisbee and date guys and go to synagogue I can’t do this forever.


But those things…I’ll figure out those things over the summer. For now I’ll revel in the glow of a wonderful year and the pure gratitude I have for having had the chance to experience this.


How clearly do I perceive Thy goodness, that I do not need to walk by faith, but by a true and heartfelt experience.


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