The Bittersweet Time of Endings and Beginnings
By Tracy Riekenberg
I was the child who cried at the end of every school year because I didn’t want to say goodbye to my beloved teachers. I was the parent who cried at the end of every year of my own children’s schooling because I didn’t want to say goodbye to their beloved teachers. Now I find myself as the teacher who is going to cry at the end of this school year saying goodbye to my beloved students.
It’s just who I am. I love school and care deeply about people. And I cry at the drop of a hat.
But it’s more than that this year.
This crazy pandemic school year found me, at age 40, as the lead teacher in my own classroom for the first time in my career. I came to teaching as a second career, stumbled along substituting for several years, had my own children and stayed home for six years, and by luck of the universe ended up at All Seasons Preschool two years ago. I feel so grateful that Amy, Joanne, and Sarah saw in me the teaching skills and capacity for loving children that are needed in this job and trusted me to be the lead teacher in the Autumn Room at Inver Glen this year.
The eight children in my classroom have brought me joy every single day. They have shown me the capacity for love, fun, happiness, imagination, determination, problem solving, curiosity, friendship, silliness, adventure, and more. At a time when my personal life was hurtful and heavy, these children lifted me up every day. I hope I have many more years of teaching ahead of me, but this class will always be so very special to me. Thank you, families, for trusting me with your very precious people and sharing them with me this year.
Almost all the children in my class are moving on to other schools next year, and I will miss them deeply. I said to one of my students the other day, “You know what, buddy? I’m going to miss you when you go to kindergarten next year.” His reply was, “I won’t even remember you when I don’t come here every day.”
It’s a sad but true fact that early educators are SO DEEPLY LOVED by children at the time they are with us, and often forgotten as the children grow up. This is how it is supposed to be; so many new experiences happen as they grow that the earliest memories get pushed to the back corners of their minds. I can only hope part of my heart sticks with these kids, be it a funny thing that happened at school, the smell of my coffee, a book we read aloud that they remember, a game we played, or when they hear “Obla-di-obla-da” and have the urge to clean up their rooms.