End of year marked by deadlines and departures

By Connie Nolen / Community columnist

“We need you to check out,” an administrator said. “Are you ready?”

“Almost,” I replied, stunned by the administrator’s appearance  in my classroom entryway. “I thought check-out was from 10-12. Am I the only one who hasn’t checked out?”

The administrator admitted that other teachers had not checked out on this last teacher workday of the 2018-2019 school year. Glancing at my watch, I remembered that it stopped this morning at 8:30. A near-by computer screen displayed 10:35.

“I’ll be right up,” I said.

While students see the final bell or graduation as the school year’s end, teachers’ school years end with final check out. Preparing for check-out departure, I had been neatly stacking my required materials close to the doorway. Rushing now, I logged my lost textbooks on the required form and hurried upstairs. In my haste, I left some materials behind. Ultimately, my final check out took longer because I rushed.

This check out seemed to mirror the school year. Every class felt too short as we transitioned from a block schedule with most days consisting of 4-5 class periods and returned to the traditional seven-period day. A career teacher, I’ve taught on every schedule—mostly the seven-period day. Oddly, this transition was tough.

Seniors seemed to suffer most. They had only experienced high school on block schedule—until this year. Juniors struggled too. Used to the luxury of diving deep and seeing results in a class period, juniors and seniors often seemed frustrated and overwhelmed this year. Most class periods felt unfinished. Arriving at satisfying completion required time after school.

“Live in the moment,” Valedictorian Bella Bass said in her graduation speech.

As this chapter closes, perhaps arriving at satisfying completion will require reflection. “Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending,” Longfellow said. My skills in the art of ending are abysmal.

May the Class of 2019 remember the moments of camaraderie, enlightenment, and joy—and may we all experience amazing new beginnings!