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It was the last day of school. It was my last day of work. Proudly, all of my eighth graders had graduated from middle school. I had just spent 20 minutes tunneling out of the post-graduation crowd in the hallway, detouring every few seconds to hug and say good-bye to students. I was finally in my classroom again, cleaning up, printing out last-minute documents, and stuffing teaching books into boxes and bags. I had 55 minutes left in the school I had made my own for the past two years. I was crying. I was packing. I had things to do.
Suddenly, 13-year-old “Margaret” was in front of my desk with a slight smile on her face. I thought I had locked my door, but apparently not. I quickly finished blowing my nose and hastily wiped aside the tears still streaming down my face. When that didn’t help my composure, I flashed her a grin and shrugged. “Teachers cry too.”
Still she stood there, staring at me silently with that shy smile. Margaret had always been my sweetest student. Despite dealing with fetal alcohol effects, a perpetually runny nose, and constant ridicule from her classmates for being half African American, she managed to maintain her encouraging outlook on life. (I get misty once again as I write this faraway in Texas.)
I walk around my desk and put my arm around her shoulder, congratulating her again on graduating and asking if she was excited about high school. Still, she didn’t budge. Finally, she turned to me. “I’m scared.”
I smiled a little and sighed. Hugging her, I said, “Margaret, high school is an adventure.”
“Adventures can be scary and adventures can be fun. But the most important thing about adventures is that you learn from them and they change you as a person.”
“Margaret, make sure you step back and learn from your adventures in high school. Be smart, be brave and try your hardest. I’m so proud of you already.”
And with that, I would like to end On the Reservation. To all the readers, thank you for your time and incredible feedback. I too am about to begin a new adventure. Please continue reading my blogs at New Terrain.
The opinions expressed in On the Reservation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.