The last couple of weeks of school were tough. The kids were wild and out of control most of the time, and it seemed like they had checked out mentally during spring break. Every day you would hear the countdown everywhere you turned. Any time you passed someone in the hallway, it was, “15 days left, only 13 school days, though.”
By the time the last day got here, I, for one, was worn out. I was trying so hard to not just coast, to make every library class on those last few days as meaningful as the first day of school, but it got harder and harder as the end got nearer.
When the final day of school came, everyone went into celebration mode. It was a half day of school, and the only classes I had scheduled to come in were the 3 and 4 year olds. I love reading to those kids, and when I’m having fun the day flies by, so that last day of school went by before it felt like it really got started.
After school, we had a faculty gathering in the library to eat and to say goodbye to and celebrate the teachers who are retiring or moving on to different things. It was all really festive and what you would expect. Everyone was in high spirits. Summer had officially arrived!
Afterwards, I walked over to the circulation desk to gather up a few books I had set aside to take home and read over the week that I would be away (I go back the first week of June for the summer reading session). There was a book that I hadn’t put there sitting on the top of the stack. Luckily, I hadn’t shut down the computer, or logged out of the circulation system yet.
I scanned the bar-code to check the book in, and the record of the student who had turned the book in popped up. I cringed, not sure what to expect. This student was the best reader in the school this year, and just a week ago, he had 15 books checked out (I didn’t apply check out limits to him this year. What am I talking about? I don’t really apply them to anyone except the kids that I know are going to lose their books.) He’s leaving the country next week never to return to our school, and if he still had any books checked out, I was never going to see them again. I looked at the screen.Next to his name it said, books checked out-0.
That moment, it all hit me at once. I was never going to check out a huge stack of books to him again. Heck, I was never even going to see him again. I was never going to help any of my fifth graders find books again. As much as they drove me nuts this year, I’m going to miss them. I started listing in my head all of the students that aren’t coming back next year. They’re either homeschooling or going to a different school. All of a sudden I wasn’t feeling so jubilant about school being out. I realized that I was closing the door on a pretty darn good year.
I loved my first year at this school, but this year, the second, was even better. I still felt like I was getting to know the faculty and students here last year. This year, I felt like the teachers were my friends, and I already knew most of the students well this time around. The students helped design the new book drop last year (See here.), but we actually got the finished product this year. (See here) We had one author visit last year, and it was good, but this year we had TWO, and the second author, Shelley Moore Thomas, brought the house down. I don’t know how I’m ever going to top her visit. We had the Battle of the Beard this year, and that was a lot of fun.I lost, and that was really the best way it could have ended. I read some amazing books this year, along with my super students. We watched the Youth Media Awards together, and we all cheered for Doll Bones and Flora and Ulysses when they got Newbery stickers. One of the students actually had Flora in her lap as we were watching, and she jumped up in celebration when it won. Most importantly, I saw some students who struggled with getting interested in reading for two whole school years, come around at the end and fall in love with some books. One of them was a fifth grader and I really hope that spark started something that she’ll take with her to middle school.
After I put that book down on top of a pyramid of titles on my overflowing book cart, and grabbed my stack of books to take home, I took a deep breath and said goodbye to the 2013-2014 school year. Some really good things happened, and I’m lucky that I got to be a small part of it all.