Saturday, August 6, 2016


The aisles of Walmart last month.

One day last month I was walking through Walmart when I noticed the annual back-to-school displays hovering above aisle upon aisle of school supplies. It hit me like an electric shock that, for the first time since 1994, I wouldn't be buying pencils, notebooks, calculators, or backpacks for anyone this year. Twenty-two years of providing for my children's education was now a thing of the past. In some ways it was a nice "You did it, Mom!" moment. In other ways, it made me a little sad.

My final beginning-of-the-year district-wide assembly for all faculty.
(Dr. D's Blue Ridge High Drumline performing for the teachers.)
Thursday, July 28, 2016

When we are young, we measure life by all the "Firsts" that mark the milestones of our accomplishments. I'm starting to realize that I've entered the season of my life where many of those markers will be "Lasts." Some will be planned, like this, my final school year before retirement. Some will be unexpected. Some may not even be recognized. Some will be highly anticipated. Others may be dreaded or, worse yet, mourned.

My last Blue Ridge student planner/handbook.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not rolling over and calling life quits. I have lots of "Firsts" still planned. I think often of all the places I want to travel after retirement, places I've never seen but always wanted to visit. I look forward with longing to the day I finally get to cuddle my first grandchild. I fully intend to complete my first novel and have it published. Life still holds the promise of new adventures, and I hope to be around for another twenty years or so to enjoy them.

The last time my name will be included in the faculty listing of the student planner.
(I served on the committee that developed our Mission Statement about 20 years ago.)

Perhaps knowing that something is, or could be, the last time you'll ever do it or experience it is a good thing. Perhaps that's the key to making sure you find a way to enjoy rather than endure the difficult times, as well as a reminder to savor the uplifting, interesting, and joyful moments.

The last time my name will be included in the Master Schedule.

I've already been asked by both the principal and the assistant principal if I would consider postponing retirement to return for another year. Or two. When I mentioned on the first day of school that this will be my last year at Blue Ridge, upperclassmen in my two non-freshman classes pleaded with me to "Just stay until I graduate, then you can leave!" I've had several students stop me in the hall or come by my classroom to tell me they wished I were going to be their English teacher again this year. All of these things warm my heart, but it's time to start a new chapter in my life. Some new Firsts to mingle with the Lasts.

My last time to set up family photos and mementos on the shelf behind my desk
to remind me that I also have an amazing life outside the classroom.

My last time to prepare my classroom for a new bunch of students,
mostly brand-new freshmen, to arrive on the first day of school.

My last time to leave start-of-the-year notes and copy orders, for things
like my class syllabus and permission slips, on the desk of my aide, Joe.

The last year I'll watch students' Lexile reading scores make huge gains
as we work together on the Read 180 program (this is the Reading Station).

The last first-day-of-school assembly I'll attend with the whole student body.
(So funny not to see Dylan's face in the crowd for the first time in five years.)
Wednesday, August 3, 2016

And so begins my twenty-seventh year at Blue Ridge High School, my thirty-seventh year as an educator, and my last chance to experience all the ups and downs of doing my part to make a positive difference in the lives of the hundred-thirty-plus students entrusted to my care for an hour of each school day. It will definitely be the last...and it's all good.

And the last "Freshman Friday Transition Games" I'll ever attend.
Freshmen only, participating in activities to familiarize them with our campus,
and culminating in a barbecue lunch served to them by their teachers.

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