I saw a t-shirt the other day that read, "I call my students my kids because in the year we are together they take a piece of my heart."
My "kids" may be a bit taller and older than the elementary school kiddos that the shirt was referring to (at least from judging by the buses and crayons around the words), but they are still my kids. Always will be. And we have four years together. Which made last night a bit of a sucker punch.
All last year, I was braced for the seniors. I knew from the day I started the Class of 2017 would be the first class to graduate where I had been the only director. I was ready for all those milestones.
But last night. Last night, at our opening event, I looked at the stack of plan books ready for our seniors and caught my breath. Then I looked at the row of faces in the front row, some a little misty eyed, waiting for their turn be handed their first plan book. In that instant, my heart both exploded and broke.
You see, this class snuck right up on me. I couldn't be more proud of how they have grown in the past three years, and I can't wait to see what they will do in their last year here. But how I will miss seeing their sweet faces on campus and hearing their stories. I wasn't adequately braced for them to be my seniors.
That's what teachers do, though. We know our own hearts will spinter into pieces every year, and some of those pieces will launch into whole new adventures at the end, taking a piece of our hearts with them. And I can't wait to see where they go...