November 2, 2018
The day before, I went home mentally drained. Fortunately, Enjoli came over to install a new hairstyle. Besides, sitting and talking with her would settle me down from such a rough week. I had rocked my natural look for about a month out of a challenge to myself. I actually loved it, but I figured I needed to switch things up as I prepared for my new adventure.
On my last day at the STEP Program, I allowed my students to come and go throughout the morning as normal. When they asked me who would teach them about mindfulness and play mindful music, I jokingly told them that they had to leave. Truthfully, I really needed them to leave my room, primarily because I didn’t want them to see me sad. It was so hard to pack, console them and keep searching for tissues for all of us.
By the end of fourth bell, I was finished shutting my room down. I planned to have lunch with my students, just to sit and talk to them one last time. The more I planned, the harder it was to face them. After lunch, they all went to another classroom. But the moment had arrived. I walked into the classroom and tried to talk to them, and again I broke down and returned to my classroom. I went back to my room so incredibly hurt.
I kept looking at the clock; the hands seemed to be moving faster that day. With 15 minutes left in the day, I asked the students to come to my classroom. I needed a moment alone with just them. I really wanted them to hear my heart and encourage them to stay the course. We gathered in a small circle and I told them how proud I was of each of them. There were several new faces to the program, yet you would have thought I’d been their teacher for years.
I allowed them to speak from their hearts and told them it was okay to cry when you’re hurting. I assured them that everything would be alright. That moment will stay in my heart forever. As my last task as their teacher, I walked them to the door one final time. Once all of the goodbyes and silly jokes were finished, I went to say goodbye to my fellow coworkers.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Bailey, along with some students, had packed my car. Now my car was filled with ten years of my teaching career and a huge part of my heart. I didn’t know what was to come next. I just knew that my time at STEP was over.