"Saying goodbye doesn't mean anything. It's the time we spent together that matters, not how we left it." ~ Trey Parker
Today was the day that many teachers and administrators dread, the year end assembly where staff members that are leaving or retiring are recognized. It's always a difficult time, not only for those leaving, but for those left behind. I don't think I've been to one where there wasn't a tear shed. Today was no different.
Our school said goodbye to a number of staff members who will be heading off to new assignments or retirement. The students gathered in the gym without really knowing who was leaving. So in a way it was a bit of a shock to many as they learned who wouldn't be with us next year. Of course I realize how difficult it is for the people leaving. They get up in front of the entire school and talk about their career and who has impacted them along the way. They give advice to the students and their colleagues, most times it is very profound advice. Every time I hear a retiring teacher speak I'm always in awe at how they can hold it together. Today was no different. We said goodbye to two amazing teachers who have positively impacted the lives of so many students and teachers. We will certainly miss them.
What really struck me, however, was how much of an impact teachers leaving have on our students. During the assembly I was sitting at the back keeping an eye on the office in case I was needed when I saw a mother looking through the glass into the gym, obviously looking for her child. I went out and asked if I could help. She asked if I could find her daughter who was in kindergarten. I went to the front and found her daughter and brought her to her room to gather her belongings. As she gathered her stuff I began to wonder why she was looking a little confused or even sad. Her mother arrived and said she would help get her ready, so I returned to the office. After a few minutes I decided to go back to the gym when I saw the mother and daughter in the hall. They stopped me and asked if I was one of the people leaving. I said no. Then they asked if Mrs. Cassidy was leaving and I said yes, she was one of the teachers leaving. The girl's head dropped a bit and the mother said how her daughter was going to miss her and that she was glad her own teacher wasn't leaving. In that moment I realized what a powerful impact a teacher can have on a student.
Whether it's the end of our career and we are saying goodbye, or just starting our career, we must always remember how much students rely on us and how much of an impact we have on them. Today's brief interaction with one of our youngest learners made this abundantly clear to me, if it wasn't already.
I'd love to hear your stories of powerful goodbyes at this time of year.