At the end of the school year I read an incredible book to the class called Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden. It’s the story of a teacher who receives a packet of seeds from her principal each August. She patiently and lovingly tends her garden all year and watches each of her seeds grow and bloom in its own glorious way.
Every single time I read that book I cry. I can’t help it! I know the story by heart, I know the ending and I know the message that it is sending to the children - how each of us is different and beautiful in our own way. It gets me right in my heart every time- and I am reminded that even though I am just a tiny stop along their journey, I am an important one.
I try never, ever to take this snippet of time for granted. I mend their scrapes, tie their shoes, zip their coats, bandage their wounds, heal their hearts, pry apart the lego pieces and dry their tears.
I ask them to reach higher, try harder, hold their tongues when they don’t want to, and use their words when they should. I also remind them that each day is a new day, and that their teacher loves them no matter what.
As is always the case each year, I learn new and wonderful things from them. Here’s a quick recap of the lessons that the teacher learned this year.
1. Always check the pockets of fidgety, guilty looking girls who have muddy fingers. Odds are great their pockets are full of worms from the playground heading home to be new pets. Continue to check said pockets daily for at least a month, as it appears that this is how long it takes them to stop “rescuing” the worms.
2. Remind the children that they are not to bring yo-yo’s to school, and should especially not play with them on top of the jungle gym next to their best friend. They will very likely end up on the ground and said yo-yo will have excellent aim as it follows them down. (This is a perfect example of why the nurse carries ice packs.)
3. When one of your students is dragging her backpack down the hall at the end of the day, there are probably about a hundred rocks missing from the schoolyard Wetlands.
4. When you point to the downstairs entrance of the building and tell children to go down there to the bathroom, remind them you DON'T mean down the hill and IN THE GARDEN OUTSIDE THE OFFICE WINDOW.
5. Remember to put "Come back you bastard!!" on the list of things you DON'T shout while chasing your best friend across the playground.
As I prepare to send these precious souls on to the next part of their journey, I hope they always remember the words to the graduation song (courtesy of John Mc Cutcheon) that we are practicing every singleday.
“Of all you’ve learned here remember this the best: Don’t hurt each other and clean up your mess. Take a nap every day- wash before you eat, hold hands, stick together look before you cross the street.
And remember the seed in the little paper cup. First the roots grow down, and then the plant grows up.”