A Little Piece of Me
Title – A Little Piece of Me
By – Sharon Cronk-Raby
I had just completed my student teaching when I realized my life had been forever changed. For those who are unfamiliar with the teaching profession, student teaching is a ritual that every teacher wanna-be must go through. It is the final step toward teacherdom. A person, while still paying college tuition to earn college credit for this experience, teaches in a classroom for free for some predetermined amount of time (determined by the state and the college), mine being ten weeks. At first, this seemed a ludicrous concept. By the end, however, I wouldn’t have changed it for anything in this world.
I was teaching 7th and 8th grade Language Arts during the last 10 weeks of the school year. I decided to attend my 8th graders’ graduation ceremony. I wouldn’t have dreamed of missing it, in fact: my first students. graduating! Saying good-bye was hard. To this day, it still remains the most difficult part of teaching – sending students on to new adventures at the end of each year, knowing I will no longer be a direct part of their endeavors.
Whether I realized it at the time or not, I had found a way to cope with these “good-byes” on that proud 8th grade graduation day. Several of my then students had gotten me an application for the high school they would soon be attending. They desperately pleaded with me to fill it out and pursue a job at that high school so that we could progress together. Knowing that I would soon be moving out of the area, making it not possible to seek a teaching position at their new school, this is what I told them, as they looked on with horrific glares of disbelief:
No one remembers everyone forever.
Someday, as your lives fill with more
people and more experiences, you might
find yourselves forgetting me. You may
not remember my name. You may not remember
what I look like. You may lose all conscious
memory of my existence. What you will have,
the legacy I leave with you, is an over all
feeling, indefinable and indescribable, to be
carried with you throughout your lives.
You see, on my last teaching day with them, they gave me a special gift. I never had enough room in the bags I carried for all my books and all their papers. Their gift to me was an enormous, white, cloth bag. In bold, black letters, my cooperating teacher (my mentor – and now friend) had written: “To teach is to touch a life forever.” In beautiful, elegant, silver lettering, all the students’ names had been written around these precious words. When presented to me, a student simply stated that now I can always carry a little piece of them around with me.
And so I do.
And so, I hope, do they of me.