I walk into the classroom at my normal time, flip on the lights as usual – and find myself looking at a bare classroom. Tables pushed aside, chairs neatly stacked, everything extremely – and unusually – CLEAN.
The bell rings at 8:10, but there’s no cacophony of loud conversations from kids streaming into the building. After the flurry of yesterday’s worship and tears and hugging and graduation, the quiet is eerie. How did we get to this day so quickly?
I know what’s coming next, and I brace for it. In a matter of moments I’m hit by a wave of mixed emotions: relief, sadness, regret, guilt, joy, self-doubt, gratitude. . .
They may be surprised to know it, but I miss my students already. We’ve spent so much time together, shared so much of our lives, prayed for, annoyed, encouraged, and rejoiced with one another. I know all summer long I will think of things to tell them tomorrow – only to realize I won’t be seeing them.
I didn’t get it all done; I never do. I still had things for them to learn, ideas for them to chew over, topics to discuss. And I ask myself the inevitable, annual question: Did I do enough? Quickly followed by the others: What did I miss? Where could I have been more patient and loving? Whose needs went unmet? I know this last year was no cosmic accident: God put those kids in my class on purpose. I will trust that I carried out His work to the best of my ability.
And we did have some good times and some amazing moments. They all grew so much – inside AND out! I do believe they’re ready for what lies ahead, whether it’s 9th grade in junior high or freshman year in high school. And they WILL come back to visit; they always do.
Though they will never again be in Mrs. Acuna’s class, they will forever be MY students, MY “kids.” I know it’s time to let go, but I’m so glad I can keep on praying for them.
For the next couple of days as I finish up in my classroom, I will hear the echoes of their voices, and I will both chuckle and wince over random memories. Then I will take one last look around the room, close the blinds and turn off the lights, and lock the door behind me. I will head down the hallway as usual – only this time it will be a couple of months before I return.