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I started formally teaching children in the year 2002 (if you don’t count my four years of tutoring in college and student teaching).

Fast forward 20 years later, and I’m getting ready to walk out of my classroom on the last day of school. In the past 20 years, I’ve taken exactly one year off of education.

Nineteen years in the books. Nineteen years of teaching reading, writing, math, and all the subjects in between. All those years of encouraging students, training teachers, and collaborating with other amazing educators. Nineteen years of pouring my heart and soul into education.

I’ve taught students who speak no English, students who lay under their desk and hiss at me, and students whom I would kidnap and take home to call my own. I’ve cried over classes because I can’t bear to see them move on, and cried about classes who try my very last nerve of patience.

I’ve tried to use up every ounce of talent I was given.

Have I? I don’t know.

I’ve spent the last eight years of those nineteen behind the door of classroom C-9.

As I walk out that classroom door today, I will definitely be holding back a LOT of tears. Those four walls held so many lives in balance. Those walls saw tears and tantrums and hard work and laughter and hope.

Those walls saw a lot of coffee.

This year, those walls saw students transform from reluctant students to eager learners.

Those classroom walls saw tears. Mine, my colleagues, my students, and even some parent tears for both happy and sad reasons.

Inside those walls I taught students how to do long division, how to balance a checkbook, and how to run a town hall meeting. In those four walls I taught who I know to be future doctors, lawyers, artists, musicians, and scientists who will cure cancer.

Those walls saw the best and the worst of me. They saw my best lesson where not a single student could help but be enthralled, and they saw the days that all I could do was go through the motions and hope the kids didn’t realize it.

Those walls saw my own babies do homework, take naps, and play as I worked. Those walls held student teachers and videographers and parents and drama sets.

If those walls could talk…

Today I will leave those four walls of classroom C-9 for the last time as I prepare to move cross country. I will leave my keys in the office and a note in my desk.

To the teacher who replaces me,

This space is special. It has seen and experienced so much. It’s yours now to do with as you please. Best of luck. You’re in a magical place.

Signed,

a dreamer

Tonight, when I lay down my head, I’ll dream sweet dreams of uninterrupted coffee and bathroom breaks whenever I want.

But I’ll also dream of the future students who will enter that doorway in July. I’ll dream of their happy faces learning as they soak in the wisdom and creativity I tried to leave inside those walls. I’ll dream happy dreams of blissful laughter and eager learners. I’ll dream of a teacher who can love those four walls as much as I have.

I hope I’ve left every ounce of talent I had there inside those walls. I hope that I’ve left a legacy there that was meaningful. I hope that the teacher who proceeds me loves that room as much as I have. But most of all, I hope that those walls plant the seed of future dreams to be a teacher in at least a few young minds.

I hope that I have made a difference.

Be grateful, water your own grass,

…and drink coffee.

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