And just like that, today is the last day. Nine months ago I was packing her back pack with brand new school supplies, wondering how I was going to send her off to kindergarten. I stood on the playground, tears pouring down my face because I wasn’t ready for this first day of kindergarten – but she was ready. Today I will be standing on the playground, once again with tears, because this precious time went by too quickly. There were a thousand things she absolutely loved about kindergarten, but I know her favorite part (and my favorite part) was you. This week I realized that I never told you “thank you.” I don’t know how a parent can in the way a teacher deserves.
We first met you at open house the week before school started and I immediately knew you would be the type of teacher we would appreciate forever. It was during the first week of school when I started to understand just how amazing you are. While the students lined up for the day, you touched each one on the shoulder as you greeted them. Every single day. You noticed the anxious ones, the sad ones, and the ones who just weren’t acting like themselves. Somehow, already in the first couple of days, you just knew. If a student was having a tough morning, you quietly held her hand and walked her into the school hand-in-hand with you.
I got to know you as I volunteered in the lunch room. You, as well as the other kindergarten teachers, made sure your students were all ready for lunch before you went on your own lunch break, which had already started. You noticed who needed help with their ketchup packets and who forgot a spoon. I got to know you as I “volunteered” in the classroom, which we both know meant I was just a body in the room, you had it all handled. You let me be in there for me, not for you. Your baby would be moving on to middle school this year so you understood how quickly these days would go. You had a classroom of 24 kindergartners and never once did I hear you raise your voice. Never. Once. When you needed their attention, you tapped these chimes that worked like magic. Your class was not an easy one, but you sure made it look that way.
The one morning I forgot to pack a drink in her lunch, you helped her order a milk. You checked on her when she went home sick. You remembered the weekend she had a dance recital. You had 24 students and took the time to really know them. You kept track of their big things and their small things, because as a veteran kindergarten teacher, you know that the small things are the big things. I saw the way you listened, and I mean truly listened, every time your students had something to tell you. They always had so much – and I mean so much – to share with you. I loved the way you valued what they had to say. Maybe they were telling you about a weekend event or maybe they were telling you that “mom” has an “m” in it, either way their faces lit up and you knew what they had to say mattered to them, therefore, it mattered to you. I loved the way you made each and every one of your students feel so special. Being chosen as your helper was the ultimate honor for them. Somehow in the midst of all that you did for them, you also taught them. They learned how to read and they learned how to add. You helped them fall in love with school which is so crucial at the start.
I wish we could take you with us to the next 12 grades. I’ve had the entire school year to try to think of a way to thank you for what you did for those 24 kindergartners this year – and I still don’t have the words.
On the first day I had to hand her to the world, I thank God it was you that I could hand her to. I thank God that you were there for her – and for me – this year.
To all of the teachers in the world who are like you, I wish you knew how grateful parents are for you. We are in awe of what you do. We adore you, respect you, and appreciate you. We are so incredibly grateful for your influence. We don’t tell you enough – we probably don’t tell you ever. You’ll never fully know the impact you made on your families. Thank you for this year. Thank you for being a teacher we will remember forever.