You know, I really was trying to be productive today. It is a toasty 39℃＋ (go do those conversions we learned!) this afternoon and I wanted to sit down and read a book. In fact, I started to, but you, and your peers, kept interrupting. I would read a few sentences, and then something else from this year would pop into my mind. Certainly this is not something that you had planned, it just worked out this way. It is funny though, the book that I was trying to start is titled What Makes Your School Something Special, and you all made this school, this year, something special.
I have told you in class that I previously taught elementary school and that this was my first year teaching middle school. If I am honest, it felt like this was my first year teaching all over again - except that I had more confidence, strategies, and overall experience this year. If you ask teachers, there is always something special about the first class that they taught. And in that sense, you were automatically special. But you went above and beyond.
Every day, especially days that I was frustrated about something - and I know you could tell - you gave me something new to laugh and smile about. Not laughing at you, but laughing with you. There some challenges and tears throughout the year, for sure. But good luck finding a group of pre-teens going through puberty that has everything completely together as far as what they can control, not even including things beyond their control.
I have to say that I truly enjoyed going to work every day. From rainy day dance parties, to solar salt on the walls; Noah's Ark to campus-wide scavenger hunts; daily lessons to sharing about life's joys and challenges. There was a new adventure every day and I'm glad that each one of you was in my class, whether for a block or an elective. As we go farther into the summer, part of me wishes that we had another few weeks together, but you need to go on to learn and experience new things and I have heard that a break before the new year is good.
For those at the school who were not in any of my classes, you helped make the school special, too. I have never seen such a kind and respectful group of students, let alone an entire school of them, as I did this year. So many of you went out of your way to wave and say "hello", or "good morning". That is unheard of. I once went on a science camp trip with a group of students at the end of their 7th grade year, and one of the teachers had to explain why we greet each other and say good morning. Yet so many of you will not leave class each day until you have told your teacher "Thank you."
As you go on to the next level, I hope that you do not lose your enthusiasm for learning or your joy for life. There will be great challenges, but you can persevere through them. Please continue to be great role models for the next round of students; though you may not interact with them, they will see what you do and how you treat others. Above all, continue to be kind, to be compassionate, and to take care of each other, as you did so well this year.
As Mr. Rodgers has said, "You've made this day special just by your being you. There's no one like you, and I like you just the way you are." Thank you for being you and making this year something so special.