Monday, May 25, 2009

Awards and Memories



The last week of school is always emotional for many reasons. I have always felt this way. As a teacher, it was hard to say good-by to the students that I worked so hard with all year. As a principal, it is a culmination of another year watching children growing academically, socially, and emotionally. It is always bittersweet to say good-bye to our sixth graders. Many of them have been with us since kindergarten. On the last morning of school, our sixth graders do what we call "The Sixth Grade Walk." The student council members lead with our school banner and we play the school song over and over on the intercom. The sixth graders walk by every classroom and say their good-byes. All of the other students bring out chairs to wave good-bye. I got so many hugs from the students as they walked by!! I truly believe that the sense of community that is built is the reason that this happens.

Each year I always hate to say good-bye to families that I have known for many years as their children have gone through our school and the last child finishes sixth grade.

On Tuesday we held our 5th and 6th Grade Awards Assembly. Awards are given out for most outstanding sixth grader, sportsmanship, community service, most improved, and the student who showed the most courage. All of these awards are named after either a former student, teacher, or volunteer who has died. It is always very touching when these awards are given out.

For fifth graders, we give out an award to a boy and girl who show kindness. This award is named after my dear friend, Ellen Widmer, who taught with me when I was a teacher and then came to Gilbert El to teach after I became principal. Ellen was one the kindest people I have ever known. We named this award after her just before she died five years ago. She was so thrilled and touched to have this named after her.

A few years ago I decided to also give an award to a fifth grade student in my mother's name. It is called the Margaret Shannon Citizenship/Leadership Award. I ask for students to be nominated who show citizenship and leadership characteristics and then chose one. For the past few years, either Teresa or Kerri have been at the assembly to help me give this award. This year, neither could be there, so Cameron helped me present the award.

The young lady who one this award is named Samantha. She is a terrific young lady!! Earlier this year, she was chosen as our Character Counts Student of the Month. Samantha organized a garage sale last fall to raise money for a local organization that rescues dogs called Friends for Life. Samantha has also been a student council representative and a peer mediator in the past. Every time you see Samantha, you see a child with a big smile on her face and a hug to give you. She has been this way since kindergarten!

Next year Samantha will be the principal liaison as part of our student council so she and I will meet regularly to discuss student council business.

When Samantha came up to get her award, I told a story about a connection that we have. You see, Samantha's great grandma was a dear friend of my mom's down in Douglas. They often played bridge together. Samantha's great grandma, Christine Cummins, was a teacher in Douglas for many years. I told her that her great grandma and Cameron's would be very proud!

Another connection with our families is my Uncle Bill was very good friends of her great uncle, Frank.

Another year has quickly passed. They seem to go by faster and faster the older I get! It is hard to believe that I have been an educator for the past 38 years. I can honestly say that I have had the best job imaginable and I wouldn't trade it for anything!! I hope to continue to have the energy to do this for a few more years at least!! Being an educator is such an important job in our society, especially today. I don't think that people in the "real world" realize how much time, energy, and emotion is put into this job and how important having some time away from it to rejuvenate is.

Carl Jung said "One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of a child." I so agree!


3 remarks:

velvet brick said...

....this is why Gilbert El. is the BEST SCHOOL in the world! Your philosophy, beliefs and dedication as you lead us is why families, students and staff want to come to our school and never leave it! I had several 6th graders who were former students of mine stop by Thursday...one crying so hard she couldn't talk...she was that sad about leaving Gilbert El. I will be the same way when that day eventually comes, too.

Anonymous said...

Aren't we so lucky to have so many wonderful "rainbow connections" in our lives? Love & hugs, Nancy

Anonymous said...

Sheila,

My little savannah "walked", and it was a difficult day for me! Thank you for making Gilbert El a nuturing and safe home for both of my children. No matter what was going on in their little worlds around them, for both of them going to school was a wonderful place for affirmation. It has been our "home" for...get this...seven years now!!! Even though my lil chickens have moved on, I hope it continues to be MY home for many more years!

Love ya,
Shelly