Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Grade 8 Farewell

This evening some of the Grade 8 parents organized a farewell dinner at a fantastic Indian restaurant.

Teachers were invited to attend and I could not miss the chance to say a formal good bye to my very first class of Grade 1s. Here is my speech to them...and I made it halfway through the first page before I started to cry...I'd say that's pretty good for me!!

Dear Grade 1 Friends (class of 2009-2010)

It’s just a little surreal to be here…at your Grade 8 farewell dinner. I feel like this day has arrived too quickly and as "A" and "I" keep reminding me…I need to realize that it is, in fact true that you are moving on from our school in just a few short days. Since I love words, and writing, I wanted to read this letter to you as you prepare to move on to the next chapter.

I can clearly remember graduating from the Faculty of Education in May of 2009. I made a check list of words for my of my dream job:

nothing higher than grade 3
small class size
less than 30 minutes from my house
and so on…

When the posting for the grade 1 job came up a few weeks later, I couldn’t believe it. our school had been my school when I was in elementary school. It was where I had been inspired to become a teacher. It was everything I could have wanted—even the 30 minute from my house part—I timed it. It was a dream come true to get this job and I spent all summer getting ready for my very first year of teaching. I got the letters of words you wrote to me from Mrs. F and I tried to imagine what you would look like. I practiced your names (Somehow I thought "I" would be pronounced [differently] and she was quick to correct me when we first met) and I imagined the fun we would have together. I prayed for you. I prayed for me and that I would have the ability to make Grade 1 good for you. I believe Grade 1 is one of the most important grades because it sets the foundation for so many other grades as you learn basic reading, writing, and math skills. I prayed I wouldn’t mess you up too badly. I also prayed I wouldn’t lose any of you. Funny story: my favourite professor ended our last ever university class by giving all of us new teachers a poem with a shell. I loved the words of the poem and how it talked about how these shells would be like our future students. They would all be a little bit different. They might have cracks or chips. They are fragile. They are ours to treasure and to take care of. I took my shell and vowed that one day when I got a classroom of my own that I would put that shell on my desk to remind me of how important each student of mine was. That night when I was telling Mr. D about shell poem I went to take out my shell to show him—-AND I HAD LOST IT! I truly hoped this wasn’t a sign of things to come. I was a bit overwhelmed when I took part in my first Terry Fox Run with you guys running around the neighbourhood and I do have to admit that on my first field trips I kept an extra close eye on you all.

But we made it. We bumped along and …..I taught you some things. And You taught me more. You grew taller. You grew smarter. You made me laugh. You were, and still are, awesome. I loved being your Grade 1 teacher. In fact, I always said that you were the best class I’d ever had which was totally true because you were the only class I had ever had. About halfway through the school year, I heard some words that really hurt. I was told that our school would have one less classroom for the next fall and that even though it would be nice for me to stay, I was told that my first year here would also be my last. It was a sad time to think about leaving and not being able to watch you all grow up. I dreamed of one day seeing you in Grade 8 and didn’t think it would be possible. Yet, God already had all the details worked out and as you know I was able to stay past that first year and now here I am, exactly where I wanted to be, watching you reach Grade 8 and preparing to close this chapter and be ready for the next one.

You are ready. I do know this.

I just want to leave you with these final thoughts on words as you use your words to meet new people, as you use your words to share your experiences, and as you have opportunities to speak your words and your beliefs to others.

Our words are like stones. We just like stone throwers with every word we say.

If our words are kind, people will treasure them.

If our words cause pain, people resonate on them and the wounds they cause is not always healed easily.

We get to choose our words. Which ones will you choose? Proverbs 16:24 says “Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Choose wisely, your words can make a difference.

Congratulations Grade 8 class. You are creative. You are confident. You are strong. You are careful.  You are resilient. You are determined. You persevere through difficult times. You can trust in yourself. You will thrive. I am thankful for you, my first ever grade 1 class. I wish you all the best in the future.

Love, Mrs. D.

I came across the idea for character rocks on Pinterest a few weeks ago and I thought they would be a perfect little token for my very first grade 1 class as they move to high school. I took time to consider the perfect word for each of my remaining 9 students and then thought of a verse to go with it. Here are my words and verses:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Get all the advice and instruction you can,
so you will be wise the rest of your life.
Proverbs 19:20 (NLT)

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV)

Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people.
Colossians 3:23 (ISV)

I can do all things through
Christ who strengthens me
Philippians 4:13 (KJV)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
James 1:2-3 (NIV)

Cast all your anxiety on him because
he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

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