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The End of School as We Know It.

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

The End of School as We Know It.

Hands down, Mr. Dave Gehrke was my favorite school teacher. He taught pottery, and I took two years of it in high school.

I was an average potter. Probably below average. But I loved the class, loved the relationship I shared with this teacher.

It was this teacher who encouraged me to keep playing tennis even when I wanted to throw it all away.

It was this teacher who encouraged me to go off to Chicago, even though most would stay close by.

It was this teacher who shocked friends and classmates by appearing at my high school open house.

It was this teacher who then visited me in Chicago, kept in touch and had me over for dinner and evening desserts on many occasions.

It was this teacher who read scripture at my wedding and this teacher who laughed jollily at the birth of H.

Mr. Gehrke retired the year I graduated. He was ready. He'd worked in the district 30 plus years, coached football for years even dabbling in hockey at times. It was not only time but he was diagnosed with Parkinson's. Another disease I now hate.
He was a tough cookie with a genuine, oh so genuine heart that I loved.

I remember crossing the stage at commencement, shaking the principals hand and as I walked down the steps I spotted Mr. Gehrke amidst my classmates. And as I walked past the row he sat in, he got up shakily and gave me a hug.

And I cried.

Because while I was more than ready to get out of school and on to bigger and better things, I knew it was all going to change.

You know how it goes as you pass the yearbooks around. Promises to stay friends forever, that nothing, no distance, no life changes will change the memories and bond you share.


"Keep in touch..."

And while there may be many people who are successful at such things, I was not. From time to time I talk to friends from high school, but it's not like it was.

And that's ok.

Hugging Mr. Gehrke as I walked back to my seat with my classmates, I knew that no matter what, it wasn't going to be the same.

It is that experience alone, and my entire relationship with Mr. Gehrke that helped me understand Miss M today.

Today was M's last day of kindergarten. I expected an excited little girl to bound down the hallway with a big grin.

Instead, as M approached, she grabbed my hand and said, "My heart is 'beeping' so fast."

And as I started to congratulate her on finishing her kindergarten year, the tears started coming.

They didn't subside quickly.

She'll miss her teacher.

M and Mrs. Ryan at the kindergarten program last week.

She'll miss her friends.
She'll miss school.
She doesn't want it to end quite yet.

I was proud, yet sad for her. Because I knew what she was feeling. She doesn't want anything to change and she loves this teacher.

Her teacher was wonderful, truly caring and so sensitive. She made each student feel that they are special not only in her eyes but in everyones eyes.

She taught them about responsibility in a way that I am amazed.

She loved on those kids as if they were her own.

M and Mrs. Ryan at the kindergarten concert in April.

They had a great year, and while M is excited for summer and all that comes with it. She is also sad and broken over the prospect of change.

We went back and M hugged her teacher one last time. And just watching Mrs. Ryan cry as she hugged crying M, was almost enough to send me into tears.

But it will be ok, and next year she'll have a new teacher and a new experience but right now, she can't imagine it any other way than how it's been.

M, how you've changed.

T, on the other hand, will most likely walk off the bus and scream in celebration!

I can almost hear him reciting... 'No more pencils, no more books. No more teachers dirty looks.'

Both reactions to the end of school are equally good in my eyes.
First day of school. September 5, 2006
Last day of school. May 31, 2007.

Happy last day of kindergarten, M.

Happy last day of 2nd grade, T.


Blogger melissa said...

reading this had ME nearly in tears! what a precious story. you should print it out and tuck it away somewhere for m to read years from now. i bet she'll appreciate your account of it.

when i was in third grade i had mrs. jackson as my teacher and loved her beyond words. i looked her up and contacted her a few years ago to tell her that in all of my years as a student, she was the best teacher i'd ever had and a huge inspiration to me.

what significant roles teachers have in our lives - for better OR worse! :)

May 31, 2007 at 5:31 PM  
Blogger charish said...

happy last day of school T and M. Ours is tomarrow.

May 31, 2007 at 5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrat's T and M on your last day of school, Enjoy your summer vacation. I hope to see you all soon. H your turn is coming.
Love you all
Auntie L

May 31, 2007 at 8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful! We love school and especially those special teachers that sometimes only come around one time. Congratulations to both on a successful year of school. May you both continue to learn always. Nan

May 31, 2007 at 9:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I remember "just a few days ago it seems" several girls who were not very happy when school was over........
Love you all

June 1, 2007 at 2:42 PM  
Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

I equate the last day of school when I was a kid to letting the calves out of the barn after being cooped all winter. The calves use to just dance around the barnyard kicking up their heels to finally be free!!! Hope they have an enjoyable summer with I am sure they will!

June 2, 2007 at 6:11 AM  
Blogger ses said...

what a beautiful story samara! my last day of school is wednesday and i'm thinking i might be a little more like M's teacher who is crying as her students leave for the summer.

i've had a wonderful year with my class and selfishly don't want ANY of them to move onto 5th. i've enjoyed everyday with these kiddos and have prayed all year long that i will be a positive role model to them. it's hard to watch the 22 kids that i've tried to love unconditionally all year, walk out the door for the last time.

i now know that summer breaks are necessary for teachers so that they can let go of their current class and rejuvinate so they can love the incoming class all over again.

it is quite a unique opportunity that i am so thankful for! i'm sure that M is one of those students that teachers dream of!

June 3, 2007 at 10:36 AM  

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