“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters…

… compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today was the last day of school.

Okay, let’s take a minute to think and then say it again… Today was the last day of school. The last day of summer school that I was the teacher for. I did it?? I DID THAT!!!! WOOHOO!

I literally have never had a feeling quite like this before. A very similar feeling when I left my last day of student teaching. A similar feeling also when I was driving down Stretch Road at the end of last summer. But a feeling that is really very special and can’t be explained until it’s being felt… Satisfaction. Pride in a job well-done. Complete JOY!

Was summer school challenging? Yes. Did I have to wake up and go some mornings even when I was tired? Yes. Did Will get the grunts of my complaining about situations that I had no real control over? Yes. Was he loving even through it? Of course! Was I counting down the days to today? Yes. But what teacher doesn’t… Although it was a stretching and at times difficult classroom to be in charge of, it was bliss. Pure bliss.

The five children I had the opportunity to serve this summer will always hold a very special place in my heart. They will always be my first kids. My first kids that were MINE! Not just being borrowed for a few hours. Mine. All mine. And they taught me more in 6 weeks than all of my UGA classes combined. (Okay, without the UGA classes I couldn’t have even walked foot into the classroom so I am forever grateful for this gift. But these kiddos taught me lessons that aren’t in textbooks.) I literally have a better picture of unconditional love because of them. And a glimpse of how I can be that kind of unconditional presence, but only with thought and care. I now know what it means to put your blood, sweat, and tears into something you love. All were shed this summer, and all were worth it. I also feel like they gave me a boost of confidence. Not just the boost that my friends and family give me, but a boost that said not only are you worthy but you are also capable.

The more I reflect the sappier I get, but that’s necessary. This summer has been important. Pivotal, even. I wanted to go to camp. I wanted to play with my friends. And I thought I had my life all figured out. (And with the best plan, no less). However, I had this beautiful job placed in my lap, this once-in-a-lifetime experience to really put to action what my focus has been for 4 years, and I didn’t even see it coming when I was writing out my plan. Just makes me thankful that it’s not my race that I’m running but one much bigger.

Without a doubt I know I’ll have this feeling again. The goosebumps when I hug my parapros goodbye and genuinely say to keep in touch. The laughter when one of my most precious students tells me “peace out” when he’s leaving for the bus. And the mental images of smile after smile from kids who can’t even say “Ms. Hightower”. This is it, ya’ll. If it wasn’t solidified before (which I think it was… but who really knows) it is now.

This girl is going to teach.

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