I think there comes a time in the school year for every teacher when he or she announces the end of his or her teaching career. I’ve certainly reached that point each year that I’ve taught, and this year was no exception. In fact, I had more than one “I’m-never-teaching-again” moment this year. There were times when I felt frustrated and disconnected from my students; times when I questioned whether my students were learning; and times when I doubted my decision to pursue education as a career at all. I’d gone through this cycle in previous years, which naturally leads me to ask myself, Why do I keep putting myself through this?
Yesterday was our last day of school here in Matamoros. As we passed the time through our last classes together, I looked at the smiles on my students’ faces and counted twenty-eight reasons why I keep putting myself through this. My wonderful, beautiful students surprised me with gifts, cards, and personal notes that I will carry with me as my fondest memories of our time in Mexico. They brought tears to my eyes with their words of gratitude and then had the audacity to make me take dozens of selfies with them. They embraced me in bear hugs and told me they will miss me. It was then that I realized that this year together meant something special to them. I will miss their sweet smiles and energetic personalities. I couldn’t have put together a better group of seventh graders if I’d tried. I will miss them so much.
The last day of school also marks the beginning of our final month in Mexico. The time has flown by faster than I ever imagined it would. Our house is cluttered with boxes and piles of stuff as we try to organize before our pack out, and our to-do lists seem to grow even when we check things off of them. We will soon have to say our goodbyes and be on our way as we prepare for our onward assignment in Riga, Latvia. That’s the difficult side of this lifestyle… always packing and unpacking, coming and going… and most difficult of all, saying goodbye to the friends we’ve made. I suppose that such an enriching experience has to come at a price; I just wish it didn’t have to be so heartbreaking. I’m filled with gratitude for the opportunities we’ve had here, and most of all, to work with such wonderful, promising young people.
Thank you for reading!