Today is my last day as the 4th through 8th grade Spanish teacher at St. Joe’s. As I prepare to leave for the next adventure, I think back to August, riding my motorcycle through Guatemala and Mexico, daydreaming of leisurely coffees, sleeping in and seeing family and friends. All too recently I was going back and forth about taking the position, nervous to jump back into teaching after having been on the road so long. I thought I’d benefit from some down-time, but quickly realized how wrong I was. In the end it was my students that helped keep excitement and joy in my daily life.
I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be to leave them. A stack of cards and gifts sit on my desk, and I feel so much sadness. I know I need time to write my book, but I can’t help wondering if I’ve made the right decision. I also wonder if they’ll ever know how much teaching them has meant to me. How much their smiles and enthusiasm helped the transition to life back at home, and how much happiness they’ve given.
I pick up a card up from the 4th grade stack and start reading:
Dear Srta. Wirkala,
I realley liked having you as my spanish teacher. I will miss you but when you publish your book I will buy your book and read it. You are my favorite spanish teacher. Will you please come back to St. Joseph when your done writing your book?
from your admirer.
The motorcycle trip up the Americas was an experience of a lifetime, but these kids, eager to hear the stories, see the pictures, learn Spanish and plan their own adventures, have brought it a depth and meaning well beyond the expected.
I get a great laugh, as often happens when working with kids, as I read the end of another card.
PS will u marry me?
But I feel a pain in my heart as I read the next.
You have inspired me to have a great adventure one day just like you. I really wish you could stay longer, but I guess you want to see the world. I’m going to miss you so much and you will always be my favorite Spanish teacher.
I say my final goodbyes, and leave hoping I’ve been able to give to these kids as they’ve given me.