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Farewell Letter, 2019-2020

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

I sent this to my students and parents last Thursday for the last day of school. It now seems like a lifetime ago.

May 28, 2020

Dear Students,

This is quite possibly one of the most difficult letters I have to write. This school year has been one for the record books. Today marks the last day of my 25th year as a teacher and my 15th in this school district. I’ve worked with over 130 students during this school year alone. Thank you.
As we left for spring break on March 6, I looked forward to my own schedule and the opportunity to read some good library books. I did just that and spent time with my family. It was just what I needed. I did not expect to never see you in person again for the school year. I did not know that I would not get to watch you learn and discover more about the fierce heroine Parvana in The Breadwinner. I would not have the chance to utterly defeat kids who thought they had a good bracket for the NCAA Tournament. We would not learn more about South Asia and India’s culture in a little more detail with me relying on some experts about customs and traditions. We did not get to delve fully into East Asia and go to Japanese school for a day, complete with bowing as a greeting and lining up our shoes outside the classroom. You didn’t get the opportunity to practice your Australian lingo with a hearty “G’day.” We didn’t take the STAAR test, and we did not have locker clean out day. I didn’t get to go watch soccer matches or baseball games like I’d planned and cheer for my students in the stands to the point that they said, “That’s my teacher.” and hid their faces from their teammates.
We had the divine appointment to be teacher and student. You were put into my class for a reason. We were meant to work together. I watched some of you grow and blossom in knowledge. I watched some make good decisions about homework by coming to ask questions during tutorials. Some I spent time with in working lunch to get assignments completed. My first period saw me eat breakfast and finish my coffee simply because I didn’t get it done ahead of time. My third period and I said the pledge of allegiance and observed the moment of silence. Some classes would groan about the food I mentioned on nearly a daily basis. My fifth period would often be delighted to leave for lunch simply because I’d shown them the deal at Sonic Drive-In or the holiday of the day like May 15th’s Chocolate Chip Day. Some students genuinely smiled to come into my classroom. Others knew that once they hit the door, they belonged to me for the class period. Game time in the hallway ended, and I did not share my instructional time. Period. When we said the pledge of allegiance then observed the moment of silence, I wanted true quiet. Some of my students needed that 60 seconds of peace just to breathe, if not to pray. My Cougar Den was a time to have a quiet workplace at day’s end, not a place to play or goof off.
As you have now worked out in your mind, I do care about you and your families. I ran a structured classroom, but it was for your benefit. Some students really needed that consistent routine just to know that it was a normal, regular day. Even when they said they would have preferred to talk or be on their mobile phone or escape to the bathroom. [Yep, I figured that one out a long time ago.] Even when I knew that other teachers’ tutorials overflowed with students, it was okay. I didn’t need to be your favorite teacher. I may not be one you remember along the road. That is okay, too. But know that despite the circumstances that separated us during the last fifty days of instruction, you were loved, you were valued, and you were prayed for.
When we return in the fall, for those still at Clark, please stop by to say hello. It will be nice to see your face again. Here is a poem I would have given you on the last day of the school year. It was written two years ago.

Amazing and artistic
Courteous, caring, and content
Dreamy, daring, and dressed for success
Engaged and exploring
Friendly, festive, and forgiving
Goal-oriented and generous
Hopeful and honorable
Listening and learning
Marvelous and musical
On time and of good reputation
Quiet when writing
Respectful and reverent
Still and surprised by what life offers
Truthful and trustworthy
Well-mannered and willing to try or help out
Xtra careful with others' feelings, property, and reputation.

-Mrs. Johnson
May 20, 2018

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing wax---
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings.”

Do your best. I wish you success.

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