One of the best things about the end of the year is the last day of school. After a bittersweet good-by to our children, it's off to the end of the year luncheon. This year we went to Epping Forest to an elegant setting on the water and an elegant lunch. The food was yummy! As we began dessert, Susan Phillips, our Principal, began reading letters she has received at the end of the year from our stakeholders. There were letters from parents who wrote the principal with a grateful heart about their child's teachers, letters from teachers with children at Chets who wrote about their child's teacher, and teachers who wrote about co-workers. Many of the letters were joyful and hysterically funny. Others were tearful as they wrapped us in memories and reminded us of the depth of our relationships. They tugged at our hearts. I'm usually such an emotional wreck by the time she finishes the letters that I am totally spent, but... that's only the beginning.
It is our tradition at Chets Creek to publicly honor individuals and teams who have met or exceeded our standards of excellence. Susan honors individuals and groups such as those teachers who are completing their first year of teaching, the PTA and SAC Chairs, the Teacher and Employee of the Year, and our newest National Board Certified Teachers. She also recognizes "unsung heroes" that this year included a couple of part time teachers who have gone over and above, a teacher who has started a school recycling program with energy and determination, and our Dining Room workers who take the toughest job at school and do it with a smile. She recognized those high fliers who have led teacher meetings, who ran our Relay for Life event, and who ran our Math Superstars program. Since this year was a concentration in technology she recognized some of the teachers who had taken technology risks such as a teacher who networked with a school in Bangkok and the five teachers who have responded to every single Book-of-the-Month challenge! Then three teachers were selected by the faculty to receive awards for taking risks with technology this year. Eleven teachers were recognized for 100% of their students meeting the standard on our state's high stakes testing!!
Finally the Team of the Year was announced - always a highlight. This year the Team of the Year was the Foundations Team - a team that surveyed our population and discovered a problem with bullying. Then they addressed the problem by bully proofing. Finally, with reluctant hearts, we said good-by to teachers that are leaving us and with happy hearts, welcomed those new folks who will be joining us.
Anticipation built as we watched a slide show of memories - this year with funny speech bubbles - that ended with Susan's announcement of the new theme - Orchestrating a Symphony of Student Success! Teachers can't wait to see the new theme unveiled each year and there's never a hint until the luncheon. Suspense builds! Teachers have been trying to guess the theme all week! The new theme was a smash hit!
I have taught at lots of schools on the last day, but Chets Creek does something that no other school has ever been able to capture. At a time when you are just too tired and ready to be finished, Chets Creek gets you all excited about the next year. Most years after a summer of relaxation and fun, I'm ready to return, rejuvenated for the new year, but Chets builds that feeling into the end of the year! What a great ending to an equally great year! I can't wait to see what next year brings as we enter with a song in our hearts!