One year ago today was one of the most difficult days of my teaching career. It was a day of immense grief- a student from my first class was killed instantly in an early morning accident.
Kaitlyn was thirteen years old and in the eighth grade. What stood out about this student was that she was a sensational writer and artist. It was her prerogative to be a unique individual. In my class and the years following, she aspired to be a writer. When I attended her funeral a few days after her passing, it was one of the most emotional events of my life because I was able to see so much of what she had accomplished in the three and a half years after "graduating" from my fourth grade class. Her incredible stories and intricately detailed works of art were on display. The people who came to honor her life were intrigued. Most importantly, she had grown so deeply to be a wonderful young woman, respected by many of her teachers and peers.
A few months later, she was honored at our district's art ceremony by our school's art teacher. For three years, a huge sculpture of a "turtle duck" she had made out of papier mache had been on display in our school's art room.
My heart reaped for a while after her passing and again today as I thought about how much every student I have taught has had a positive impact on my life. After going through the experience of losing one of my very first students, I have realized even more since then that you have to "embrace" the essence of every child you teach. We as teachers are blessed to be in a profession that can profoundly impact lives.
Today, I was originally planning an entry about peace, September 11th, and anti-bullying, but I feel I need another week to prepare it for you. Before next Wednesday, I plan on taking photos of my students making pinwheels in art class for Pinwheels for Peace, uploading a few spectacular podcasts we are recording in class, and including the beginning excerpt of a chapter book I wrote last year that fits the theme perfectly. Sometimes we need to take a few extra days to make something spectacular.
I will finish by showing you a few reasons why I became a teacher. I just never realized before entering the classroom that teaching would be this amazing.
Without the six years of students I have taught, I would certainly not be the same person I am today. Kaitlyn, you are dearly missed.