This will be my last year at my current school. It is closing, and students are being transferred all over the county. I will never see many of my kids after this year, and that has been difficult to accept. I call them “my kids” because they are…I help them grow their minds and their worldviews, and I can’t fully express how much that means. It is amazing to watch them adjust as they learn more about the world around them…I love teaching high school!

This year, I have had a lot of thoughts like, “What difference could I possibly make in this last year? It’s just one year out of their education.” I am used to having relationships with students over multiple years. Once they leave my class I still check up on them. My impact with this year’s students is such a tiny part of their experience that it couldn’t possibly make a difference, right?

This morning, a few things happened to change my thinking.

A student I’ve only substitute taught while her regular teacher is out came to say good morning, even though her class is nowhere near my room. We chatted a bit, and she hugged me when she headed off to class and asked if she could come by at lunch time. I have no idea what is going in her life right now, but I am honored to be a known safe person.

Two of my students were rapping in the hall, and one of them dropped the “N-word” as it is used in the song. When he saw me, he apologized immediately. “Mrs. Johnson… I’m sorry. I know you don’t like that word.” No, I don’t. And you shouldn’t. You’re better than that word. Remember that.

A student came by after the bell rang. I immediately told him I wasn’t going to give him a pass to get into class, that he had to go to the office. He held up a pass in his hand and said, “No…I came to see you! I’m going to miss you next year.” I told him I would miss him, too, and he asked, “Do you think I could have one of the books from your library to keep? And maybe you can sign it for me?” If you promise to read it, if you promise to read anything, yes! Yes! Yes!

This one year contains many moments in which I can make an impact on my kids. I had forgotten that in the emotional chaos of the school closing. I am so thankful for these reminders.

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