To the children and families, faculty and staff of the Greatest School on Earth,
So many folks recently have asked me about plans for my retirement “party,” so I thought it might be better to share in one simple response. For those of you that may be new, and anyone that could possibly not know, I will be retiring on January 29, 2016 after 40 years of teaching. I guess in so many ways that is a lot to celebrate. Hard to believe it's been 40 years! I certainly need to celebrate how fortunate I have been to love my job all these years! They say it’s not work when you live your passion and that certainly has been my story. I have looked forward to getting up and coming to school almost every single day from my first day as a self-contained Special Education teacher in a little school in my hometown of Florence, SC, to my ten years at Alimacani with my daughter in tow, to these “golden” years at Chets Creek.
My story has been like a lot of teachers who spend their entire adult years in a classroom, but unlike most teachers, I had the amazing opportunity to represent teachers in Florida for an entire year. During that year I was celebrated in ways that few teachers get to experience. Many of you were with me the night Marvine almost fell out of the balcony in excitement when I was named Duval’s Teacher of the Year. Some of you were there for the state announcement, and then so many of you came to celebrate my homecoming that first time I returned to Chets –you sent a limo as I recall! You made me feel like a celebrity – a “queen!” So many of you sent me cards and e-mails and notes - throughout that entire year! You even followed my daily journeys with a map in the school office. It wasn’t just you, but so many teachers who had been administrators, mentors and friends from other schools throughout my entire career reached out during that year. I even heard from a teacher who taught me when I was a student! I think I heard from every child and family that year that I had ever taught and was often left in tears when a grown man or women remembered me as their teacher. You have celebrated me in pictures, slide shows, videos… and skits! I have no secrets (at least not anymore!) When I came home after that year, the celebrations continued. You celebrated when I turned 60 (although I’m still not sure why we celebrated that!) You celebrated with me as each of my children married and when I became a grandmother. You too often have honored me, deserving or not, with awards at the end of the year. And… I guess when it’s all said and done… I have enjoyed it all. Who wouldn’t?
But now… I am coming to the end. I really don’t need a “party” to remind me of the deep friendships that I have made on this journey or of those of you who have transformed my life. I will hold those memories in my heart always and forever. I don’t even need the children to tell me if I have made a difference, because I have always known that children who have entered my room have come by Divine appointment. Originally I was egotistical enough to think they came because there was something that I was supposed to teach them, but I soon realized that they came all too often because of what they were supposed to teach me! Besides, I have been so fortunate, from the very beginning, that I have always known that this was God’s plan for me, so it has never been my glory to claim.
So... it has become the tradition at Chets, that as teachers retire, they are honored with a simple (I said simple, KK!) breakfast on the morning of their retirement. So it should be with me. I hope you will join me for a few moments to laugh and reflect and reminisce. Nothing fancy – nothing stressful – just joyful fellowship. And then as the day closes, “clap me out” as you have so many other teachers and students who have left through these doors… with memories to last a lifetime and love overflowing… and knowing that as this chapter closes, another joyful chapter will begin… for this book is not yet complete…