This year has been a mixed bag of emotions with me. There have been some major stressors with my job, and I have spent a lot of time questioning my career path. But after school on Wednesday a student who I've had some struggles with walked into my classroom and handed me a bouquet of roses and said, "These are for you. You are my favorite teacher."
As she handed me the flowers, I was in shock because I have had many sleepless nights spent tossing and turning wondering if I was doing any good in the classroom, if I was making even a slight difference in the lives of my students. If I've learned anything from my short time in teaching, it's to never give up---to keep reaching out and pouring love and energy into students because you never know when it may sink in and impact them.
This year I really was blessed to have a fantastic group of students who taught me how to listen more, how much enthusiasm and positivity pays off and how important relationships are. Here are some highlights from this school year:
- Coaching cross country: I was an assistant this year to an amazing Christian head coach. I learned a lot about motivation, grew in my faith, had a great time with an awesome bunch of kids...and our boys team won the class C state title!
- English 9 social action project night: My students worked hard to create some awesome projects that helped out the community and then all showed up to present their projects to the community one evening. We had a great turnout of community members supporting students and were featured on the local news channel for our efforts. Many of them were truly invested in these projects; I think this opportunity made them feel like they actually can make positive change, like they can be activists despite their young age. I can't wait to do it again with next year's students.
- Attending the National Writing Project and National Council of Teachers of English conventions in Orlando: I was so blessed to be picked to attend these conferences. I attended many great sessions that challenged me to really step up my game in the classroom. It was just what I needed to invigorate my teaching.
- Presenting at the National Writing Project Rural Sites Network conference in Little Rock and the Nebraska Educational Technology Association: Though I was incredibly nervous for both, each conference was a positive experience that allowed me to share something I am passionate about AND to network with other incredible teachers. Presenting at these conferences also reaffirmed my desire to teach teachers.
- Watching my husband succeed in his job: He had seven students make the All State Choir (more than Ogallala has had since the '90s) and two students selected for the All State Jazz Choir, and two out of three of his choirs received Superior ratings at District Music Contest this year. He also led nearly 60 students to a successful musical performance. Last night we went bowling with 2o Tri-M music honorary society students to kick off summer, and those kids love him. I get such a thrill out of watching him interact with his students.