June 8th 2012
We celebrated another end to another project at 9:30 this morning.
All of the students lined the main hallway. Then on cue the fifth grade girls and boys paraded down and out the front door to waiting parents taking pictures with their phones.
They are done with us. We are done with them. They are on to middle school.
In the span of ten weeks they will go from the mightiest to the lowliest.
As it has always been.
Most of them aren’t truly aware that this is the transition they are about to embark on. It may occur to them in early August. Then there will be a sense of terror for some as the realization sinks in.
But they will survive.
Some will return next year to say hi, seeking the feeling that you get eating comfort food.
Then they will disappear completely.
A few will come back their senior year in high school. They will show up and speak to their former teachers with a politeness we never thought possible when they sat in our classrooms.
However, they will not be speaking to me.
This year Karen, Cathy, Glenna and I paraded behind them.
We are the retirees.
Joining the parade was not our idea. The fifth grade teachers invited us. I thought it was a bit awkward. I felt this was the fifth graders’ moment. I had been honored enough with a series of retirement parties almost beyond count.
By the start of the parade Karen’s eyes were already red from a morning of tears. I was in no mood for tears, so I grabbed Glenna’s arm and like the Duke and Duchess of York we strutted down the hallway waving with fingers closely touching as we imagine dukes and duchesses do when they wave to their subjects.
The cheers and applause were loud and the giggling was contagious.
A fourth grader yelled, “You’re waving like a princess!”
“I am a princess,” I said.
And the giggles turned to laughter.
Usually there is music coming over the school’s sound system to accompany the parade.
But our principal screwed this up as she has screwed up everything that she has touched these past two years since she descended upon us like a plague.
Beware of those who give good interviews.
She is leaving too, having “resigned” in order to “pursue other opportunities in education.”
May my old colleagues get a new leader who is worthy of them.
May the parents and their children – those who next Fall will walk into a building that was my workplace for the past fifteen years – know how wonderful their teachers are. How wonderful all the adults who work at George Carpenter Elementary School in Park Ridge, Illinois are.
I’m ready for a new project.