The last day of school this year was the hardest one yet. The end of the school year is usually bittersweet, but this year it feels only bitter. I love these kids with my whole heart and saying goodbye was nothing short of heartbreaking.
This is the letter I read to my class at the very end of the last day of school. For privacy purposes, I have removed names and simply put initials.
June 6, 2023
Dear Ringold Team,
I am writing this letter at my desk the night before the last day of school, and as I look around the room so many memories flood my brain. This year, we have built an unbelievable community together as the Ringold Team. This year, a lot of us have been feeling mixed emotions at the end of the school year. It is confusing to feel excited, proud, and sad all at the same time. You are not alone in feeling multiple emotions at once!
As we reflect on the school year, we have a lot to celebrate! We can celebrate that we memorized ALL 50 states and capitals! You CRUSHED that test and I am so incredibly proud of you. You will use that knowledge for the rest of your life. We read over 20 books for “Social Justice Fridays!” We learned about how to be allies, celebrate diversity, and show everyone love. We learned from each other and our unique experiences. You were brave enough to tell your stories and share your experiences, and everyone else learned from you. We learned about volcanoes, rocks, the water cycle, and the Earth. We can celebrate all of the teamwork skills we used this year and we can remember the good times at our teamwork parties. You ROCKED the MCAs this year and showed so much growth. I am SO proud of you. We grew multiple grade levels in math as we learned how to problem-solve, work together, help each other, and challenge ourselves. We can celebrate the fact that we made new friends this year and branched out to get to know other people. We can celebrate all of the moments when you included each other and showed exceptional compassion and empathy. You are such a thoughtful class! We can celebrate collecting 366 pounds of food that we donated to the local food shelf. We can celebrate how much we learned this year! We covered so much––math, reading, writing, science, social studies, SEL, and even typing! You are leaving this classroom smarter! You have so much more knowledge than you did a year ago, and that is an achievement to celebrate.
As we end the school year, I want you to know that you are unique and perfect just the way you are. A few months ago, some of you asked me to write down things I love about every student, so I am doing that for you now as we close out the school year:
T: You are athletic and talented in multiple sports! You are determined and focused in & out of the classroom! You apply yourself, don’t complain, and have a good attitude. You are always ready for learning, which will definitely take you far!
W: You have such a kind heart. Other kids (and adults!) love to be around you because of your personality and who you are. You work hard and are responsible. You are kind to others and always try to do the right thing. You have great character.
E: You have such a great sense of humor. You aren’t afraid to be yourself and you love to have a good time. You bring joy to the people around you and make others laugh all the time. You are such a bright light!
M: You are artistic and unbelievably creative. You think about other people, always offer to help, and give the best (and biggest!) hugs. Your imagination blows me away and your drawings are hysterical! You are such a talented artist. You light up every room you walk into. Keep shining bright!
J: You are clever, sharp, & witty! You are athletic, coordinated, and think outside the box. You excel at problem-solving and critical thinking. You are inquisitive and are always ready for the next thing.
M: You are FAST! You can run like nobody else! You are athletic, coordinated, and talented. You have a big heart and your emotional intelligence will take you far! You work hard in school and have achieved so much! You are unstoppable if you put your mind to it.
Q: You make everyone around you laugh with your witty remarks and great sense of humor. You are always honest. You aren’t afraid to be yourself and express your thoughts. You impress all of us with your skilled karate moves! You work hard in school and have so much potential. I can’t wait to see all that you accomplish!
L: You crack me up with your silly jokes and quirky sense of humor. You are unapologetically yourself, which I love. Your positivity encourages the other people around you. You make other peoples’ days better by showing up in the world as your authentic self.
T: You are simply fantastic! Your laugh is contagious and you always make me laugh with you! I love how you find joy in the world around you. You have a great imagination and you are a great friend.
G: You are adaptable and a deep thinker. You impress me with your attention to detail and critical thinking skills. You have phenomenal reasoning skills and can look at problems from multiple different angles. You are an amazing older brother. You are seen and you are loved.
D: Sweet D! You are so kind, thoughtful, creative, and respectful. You brighten my day with your bubbly personality, silly stories, and genuine curiosity. You are a wonderful older sister and your big heart will take you far!
M: You have a cute, funny, silly, & slightly sassy 😉 personality. You were so brave this year while you were in the hospital and we really missed you when you were gone. You have a sweet disposition, caring heart, and you’re a good friend.
E: You are so kind and sweet, but also not afraid to stick up for yourself! You are creative and have a fantastic imagination. Your innovative ideas inspire others and your positive energy lifts other people up! Students love to be around you because you are such a great friend.
T: You have a heart of gold. You are caring, loving, honest, and fun to be around. You are optimistic even when things get tough. You are committed to focusing on the positive things in life and it shows!
K: You are resilient, brave, and strong. You wear your heart on your sleeve and are transparent about your thoughts and feelings. Your ability to be vulnerable and honest sets you apart. People admire you for your bravery and courage!
S: You tackle every obstacle with optimism and positivity. You navigate every situation with strength and grace, which is a beautiful combination. Your resilience is remarkable. You are always willing to help others and show kindness. You are organized, responsible, and mature. The world needs your light!
S: You are hardworking and studious. You have fantastic reasoning skills and apply yourself in everything you do. You are willing to take action when you see a problem in your community. You are eloquent and articulate your thoughts and feelings very well.
A: You always stay true to yourself. You wear your heart on your sleeve and show people your true feelings. You are incredibly honest and quick to forgive others, which is a beautiful quality. You have many talents from DJing and break dancing to ping pong and swimming!
M: You stick up for others and show them love when they need it most. You are silly and funny, but also serious and wise. You care about others and soak in everything around you. You are reflective, intellectual, fierce, brave, and strong. You are resilient and keep going even when things are difficult. You are an incredible friend, talented writer, and amazing person.
J: You do an excellent job of expressing your feelings. Other students enjoy being around you because of your kind, sweet, humorous personality that is uniquely Jesus. You are determined and want to do well! We love you so much!
K: You carry yourself with quiet strength and determination. Your hard work shows and has paid off! You are thoughtful, intuitive, and a deep thinker. You do high-quality work that stands out. Nothing can stop you if you put your mind to it!
E: You have a compassionate heart and even apologize for things you didn’t do! You want the best for yourself and others. You demonstrate great maturity, humility, and dependability. You are trustworthy and kind.
C: You are artistic, creative, and your drawings blow me away! You are always ready to take on a challenge. You have a remarkable growth mindset academically in the classroom and physically in the pool! You demonstrate amazing perseverance and determination.
A: You have a vivacious personality that is simply A! You are lively and energetic. You bring your positive energy with you wherever you go. You show your big heart through your actions and expressive nature, which is admirable.
J: You are compassionate and caring towards yourself and others. I absolutely love your big heart. You are strong and brave. You are also open and honest, which actually teaches the other people around you valuable lessons. You are already making plans for your future, which will serve you well! You have the sweetest soul.
V: You always have good intentions and want the best for everyone you love and care about. You are hardworking, humble, and reliable. You always get your work done and do it with a good attitude, which sets an amazing example for the other people around you!
Y: You are very artistic, especially with clay and folding paper. Your creations are extraordinary! You work hard, but also like to tell silly, light-hearted jokes! Your silly sense of humor truly makes people laugh!
You each have your own unique personalities and special gifts & talents. Having all of us together in one classroom is what makes the Ringold Team such a beautiful blend of people. I have so many great things to say about each and every one of you! This is just the start of the list! My hope is that all of you keep working hard in school. Even if things are tough—don’t quit. Don’t give up. Stay in class. Do the work. You have so much potential and you are going to do amazing things in the world if you keep going.
We have so many amazing accomplishments to celebrate from this year, but we also have a little sadness to recognize too. There are a lot of things that we are going to miss about this class. I am going to miss being with you for 7 hours every day! I am going to miss teaching you because I feel like we made so much progress! I want to keep the progress going! I am going to miss the fact that we know each other so well! It really brings us together as a united Ringold Team and is a special quality of this class! I will miss laughing with you. I will miss reading to you. I will miss giving you a high five, fist bump, or hug every day. I will miss telling you goofy stories. I will miss hearing your stories. I will miss bringing in toast, pancakes, bananas, apples, Cheerios, and other snacks for all of you. I will miss morning meeting with you.
As I look around this classroom, I think about all of the memories we have made here. This is truly a special place. In this classroom we gave hugs, shared our feelings, cried, laughed, learned, grew, made mistakes, discovered our talents, made new friends, celebrated our diversity, read incredible books, challenged ourselves, ate yummy food, used our creativity, asked for help, felt safe, tried new things, and celebrated each other’s successes.
This year you have challenged me, encouraged me, made me laugh, brought me joy, and helped me become a better teacher. You have helped me fall even more in love with teaching. You have given me hope for the future generations of this country as you have shown exceptional resilience, empathy, compassion, creativity, and zest for life. This year, you truly made me excited to come to work each day. I call you “my favorite people” because YOU ARE my favorite people. I am not exaggerating when I say that you have changed my life. You truly have. I will be forever grateful for the time we have spent together.
The good news is that most of us will still be here next year. It will be different, but I will be just a few steps down the hall. When you leave my classroom, I still care about you just as much as I did when you were in fourth grade. Once you’re in the Ringold Team, you are always in the Ringold Team. Come say hi. Email me. Come back and visit. I want to see you and talk with you—next year and beyond! I will always be cheering you on. Please remember that I believe in you. I care about you. I want the best for you. I love you so much.