I still haven't wrapped my head around actually leaving the classroom. I guess it is because I know I will still be there. I don't know what that role will look like, but I know I will be there. Not just for my students, but for myself. As one of my colleagues (better described as good friend) said: "as I watch my first homeroom students cross the stage in their caps and gowns in a few short days, many of who will be the first in their family to attend college, I will be shedding tears in the audience. I am content to be just a footnote on their amazing journeys, while they have written chapters in mine." And interesting, gut-wrenching, proud, challenging, exciting, epic, emotionally draining yet soulfully fulfilling chapters those are.
It makes me so pumped that there are teachers, administrators, coaches, mentors, and friends who are creating opportunities for students in Memphis and across the nation. These opportunities seemed much more sparse when I first moved here. It is ever so important for us to encourage students to seek these opportunities and take advantage of them. It is exactly like lightning. We must meet these opportunities with equal force in order to turn them into something great. I have to give full credit for the lightning analogy to my wife's cousin-Chloe. This analogy has rocked me every day for the last month. I have seen it shed some light on life for some of my students as well. Here is the letter that I wrote to my students. It expresses what I desire for them all. I will continue to find ways to help them make lightning (and seek it for myself) regardless of my job or life path.
To My Awesome Students,
It has been such a pleasure to teach you this semester. I have enjoyed almost every minute of it. Now that EOCs are over, I wanted to officially tell you that will not be returning to teach chemistry at PCA next year. I know it doesn’t affect you much considering you have now had me as your teacher whether you liked it or not J, but I wanted you to know that that does not mean I will not be around even if you don’t see my face and hear Lil’ Chem raps in a classroom on Blue Krew Hall or hear me yelling at you to get to class on time. Mrs. J will still be here so you know I will be up here almost daily. I will be checking in on you in your future classes and would love to keep in touch if you want. PCAHS means the world to me. The reason it does is simple. It is because of you. Seriously.
If I could leave you with anything, it would be this: go out of your way to make lightning. Look towards the sky for opportunities. When heaven hurls an opportunity and energy down towards you (which it most definitely will if you have your eyes open for it), it is your responsibility to rise up from the ground and meet it half way. You see, in order for lightning to strike the ground, the energy in the clouds must be met with an equal energy from the ground (think charges). In the same way, you cannot expect grades, jobs, scholarships, college, inspiration, or anything really to just fall from the sky. You must go out of your way to seek these opportunities. The journey up will be twisted, full of dead ends, and at times completely in the wrong direction. Regardless, it will meet eventually in a victorious display of energy and light. Your successes will be heard like thunder for miles and such a spectacular light will overshadow your hardships.
Thank you for teaching me so much this semester and for the opportunity to get to know you better. I hope you keep in touch with me as you experience this crazy lightning bolt of life. Know I am here for you if you need help navigating it. I hope you would never feel as if I am leaving you because that is most definitely not the case. It gives me a knot in my chest to try something new next year, but I know it is a part of my own personal lightning bolt. I know God has placed this new job as an opportunity in my life and I must step out of my comfort zone in order to meet the potential energy in the sky from the ground. You have my number and my e-mail. Use it.