My first class of second graders are starting college this year. That's right, they are freshmen in college. As they settle into their dorm rooms and meet new friends I can't help but imagine each one of their faces. They will forever remain frozen in time as 7 year olds Even the ones I have seen recently. I imagine them meeting their roommates and I hear their tiny voices, "Can I play?"
I can't help but laugh when I think out Amit who got writers block during writer's workshop. While "thinking" he tore the eraser off his pencil and stuck it up his nose. It got stuck so far up his nose that he got sent home and had to go to the hospital to have it removed. Does he still rip erasers off pencils? Will that be the "most embarrassing moment" story that he tells his fraternity?
I think about Josh. The little boy that kept me up at night with worry about his home life. Who struggled with dyslexia. Who could outrun anyone in the grade. I find myself wondering what happened to him. The same worry that kept me up at night 12 years ago lingers today. Is he going to college? Is he happy? These kids weren't just in my class, they became my kids. Each of them still holds a special place in my heart.
My second class will be seniors. This is the class that will go down in history as my favorite class ever: My Chicken Nuggets. I look down at their class picture and each face tells a story. There was Floppsy who had a haircut that bounced as she walked. Who was still learning English and defaulted to saying, "I forgot" for everything.
There was Jacob who believed he was a superhero and told me that his mom's alter ego was Wonder-Woman. I often found the Wonder-Woman logo on his papers. Is his mom is still his super hero? I hope she so!
There are some I have watched grow over the years by keeping in touch with their parents.
There are others that moved away. The ones I will always wonder about. That was the year of Katrina. We were blessed to have Kyran join our class mid year. He was tiny and full of spunk. My kids embraced him with patience and love. Because of his spunk, the Chicken Nuggets were born. I will never forget the day they were lined up waiting to enter Art class when Kyran told the boy in front of him, "Man, youse a chicken nugget." Confused the kid raised his hand and said, "Um, Ms. Ransom, he called me a chicken nugget." I turned to look at Kyran. He responded by saying "What teach? He's all white meat!" There was a pause. Then everyone in line just started to laugh. The kids didn't really understand what he was trying to say. One boy piped up from the back of the line saying, "I like chicken nuggets!" Thus the Chicken Nugget was born. It became a term of endearment. It became our class mascot. The kids embraced their place as my "nuggets." At the end of the year they created chicken nuggets as keepsakes in Art. A parent recently told me that her daughter still has her chicken nugget in her keepsake box. And you know what? So do I.
These kids that I taught 11 and 12 years ago will forever remain frozen in my heart as 7 year olds. When I see pictures of them all grown up it makes me feel proud...proud and old.
I may not make much money but knowing that there is a senior in high school that has a chicken nugget in her keepsake drawer means I make a difference.
It's about more than learning to read. It's about the relationships. I have learned more from them then they possibly could have learned from me.
And now as I step into my 12th year as a Plano teacher I look forward to making new memories with a new set of kids. Kids I will laugh with. Kids I will lose sleep over. Kids I will love.