Ok? Ok. What’s Next?

As I sit in my empty classroom (I’ve a coffee cup and mousepad) I have a great sadness about the future of my students and what I will not be able to offer them. It is hard for me to truly come to grips that that 19 years have come and gone and I’m headed out the door. My kids (and fellow staff members) have given me so much over the years as I’ve grown as a teacher. They have taught me to have patience, given me the knowledge that skills vary widely, and that success is different for everyone. For all I’ve learned from them, through all of the support and love I have received, I know that I given them an equal share back.

When it comes down to it, and my students know this when they walk in for the first time, my number one concern has never been turning out the next Mary Cassatt, Kehinde Wiley, Frida Kahlo, or Jim Dine but rather helping them to become more caring, hard working, and passionate adults. I have seen my kids act on their beliefs and create works, use words, and take action ahat have led to social awareness on topics that they are truly passionate and concerned about. (See how the NVAS works into so much of what I hope for the kids? 2.3Ad Demonstrate in works of art or design how visual and material culture defines, shapes, enhances, inhibits, and/or empowers people’s lives. and 6.1Ad Curate a collection of objects, artifacts, or artwork to impact the viewer’s understanding of social, cultural, and/or political experiences). Thank you students for that.

I was asked today if I could have one photograph, just one photo, of what I take away from here what would that be? I have that image… three young women (Izzy, Ali, and Ashley) standing a few feet back in front of one of their drawings. I’ve already gone around the room, offered my feedback, and now have stepped back to give work time. They are critiquing one another’s work without me telling them to. They are pointing their fingers at areas that need work, looking up at the elements and principles posters to find the right words to use, and they are sharing ideas about how to resolve and make revisions. This is the image I leave with. This happens all the time. It’s not just these three, it happens in all of my classes and I know that it will happen in my new school with my new students.

Izzy, Ali, and Ashley critiquing all on their own. This is the image that stays with me. I’ve got these images of nearly all my kids. This is one that I actually have a photograph of. Thanks ladies.

What I will miss the most here are my relationships and connections. I know that I will develop new and solid relationships with my new community. The school friends that I don’t have yet will take the place (but never replace) the friends I currently have. The kids that I don’t know yet and that will mean the world to me will take the place of (but not replace) the kids that mean the world to me here. I am good knowing that the impact I made in my hometown student’s (and fellow staff’s) lives will be felt by my new school as well. It will take some time obviously, but the connections will be made and the love, care, and compassion for those I have yet to begin working with will develop.

Thank you to everyone (family, friends, students, community) who has helped make the end of my time in my hometown high school less painful. Thank you to the students and community who came together to try and save my job (and with that make sure that you and your friends all TAKE MORE ART CLASSES! Don’t sign up for a study hall, you don’t need to watch videos on how to play video games anyway.) Thank you for the letters, phone calls, hugs, and prayers… this would have been a lot harder without all that support. Most importantly however, thank you to Julie and Abby for being there and supporting me through all of this. Without your love and support I just don’t know how I’d have handled this all.

Ok? Ok. What’s Next?

The Signal – It’s a good thing.

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