After graduation, the kids separated into their homeroom classes and walked to the subway station. We took the kids out to Manhattan for lunch and did a couple activities where we got students to think about themselves, about their friends and about their future. One of the activities we did was the "Clique Activity", where we put students into groups that are separate from their 'clique' - so they can mingle and meet new friends they might have never talked to before. I think some of them have some very good new friends!
On Wednesday, in the midst of all the heat that was going on that week, the students finished their last day of middle school and I finished the last day of my first year of teaching. From the blur of all the things going on that day, I remember:
- yearbook signing like no tomorrow
- picture taking... and lots of it
- making a very emotional goodbye speech to each of my five classes
- more tears
- getting gifts from my students and colleagues
I too, gave my students a good-bye gift. Each student got a "yearbook" from my class with some of the pictures I took during the year, their class pictures, graduation, prom, etc. Our team treated them to an ice cream party.
I witnessed my students truly grow up this year. So much that in homeroom, my students and I were discussing the Ann Curry debacle, the Karen Klein bullies, Healthcare reform... things you wouldn't even expect an 8th/9th grader to be interested in, let along to be talking about.
To any of Mr. Yang's students that happen to be reading this right now: (unlikely since my last name isn't "Yang" and I haven't told them about this blog...)
Thank you so so so so much for being such a great group of students. I am honored to have worked with you this year, and honored to be a part of your life. I hope that, not only have your skills in math grown, but you have also grown as a person. You have taught me so much about teaching and about the students that I work with... and I sincrely hope I taught you as much as you taught me, though I highly doubt it. I respect and admire all of you, because the challenges that you face day in and day out don't even come close to what I went through when I was your age, or with what I face right now. Your hard work, persevereance, sense of humor, intelligence and optimism really defines who you are. I know that life in the Bronx is not easy, but you are making it work!
I know ALL of you have what it takes to be successful. I want all of you to go to graduate from high school and go on to great colleges and do great things. NEVER give up on your dreams & don't ever stop dreaming. I am here for you and know that every one of you mean so much to me. I believe in you and don't ever let ANYBODY tell you you can't make it out there!
Oh, and make sure to come & visit me often! :)
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." -Eleanor Roosevelt
"You must be the change you want to see in the world."-Mohandas Gandhi
All the best,