It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

I am mad, I am angry, I am livid.

I am trying so hard not to be, but I am.  When I walked into the house today I was greeted by my 11- year old fifth grader who will be entering that crazy, scary, filled with hormones world called junior high next year. She handed me an envelope addressed to The Parents of Leah Crotty. I joked with her and asked if she caused trouble in school today. She replied with her head cocked to the side, as if to say, really mom? But then she obliged me with a “no.” I figured it was a letter regarding the end of 5th grade/preparation for junior high.

I opened the envelope to find a letter explaining that Leah’s teacher will be leaving March 28. I wanted to freak out, start screaming, start crying, start cussing, but I didn’t. I didn’t because I have a daughter watching my every move. In fact I have two of them watching my every move. I know it may seem dramatic that I was overcome with such strong emotions, but we are just coming off of a less-than-great experience when Emily’s teacher was on maternity leave for twelve weeks.

I am mad, I am angry, I am livid.

In addition, we LOVE Leah’s teacher. He is absolutely amazing. He just “gets” it. The classroom is run like a college course. So much autonomy, so much choice, so much authentic learning and application. They work collaboratively on assignments and submit them through Google docs, solve real-world problems, and tackle issues that require out-of-the-box thinking. Most importantly, I am so bothered because I hear the strain in Leah’s voice when she tries to tell the story. The cracking is unbearable to me, I am helpless – a mom that can’t help her own daughter. I want the pain she feels to go away. She developed such a good rapport with him, as did the rest of the class. He understood her and challenged her thinking. He helped her grow and develop into a stronger girl in so many ways.

I  am so disappointed in him, so disappointed with the situation. He couldn’t stick it out for 8 more weeks? He’s been traveling between Chicago and L. A. for a few months now. What is 8 more weeks? His wife accepted a new job and he wants to be with her. I am trying to understand, but I am having a hard time because he made a commitment to these kids – these kids who adore him and look up to him at such an impressionable time in their lives.

I am mad, I am angry, I am livid.

But…I am grateful too. He enlightened Leah and provided her with an insurmountable number of unique learning opportunities since August. She would never have been exposed to  such experiences  elsewhere. I know this can’t be easy for him either. It must have been a very difficult decision. So, for tonight and as the school year draws to a close, I will give Leah a few more hugs and assure her it is going to be alright. When step-up day is near and the big 5th grade field trip downtown approaches, when she is longing for her teacher’s presence, I will tell her I understand and comfort her. It’s a life lesson that she will never forget. She will also remember she made it through that difficult time; and, hopefully it will provide her with the courage to continue to fight through hard times.

As for her teacher, I wish him the best of luck on his journey in life. It’s hard not to be selfish and want him to stay, but he obviously has other obligations that we must accept. As for the kids in California who will have him leading their classroom – consider yourselves very lucky and enjoy every learning  moment with him!

I am upset, I am still sad, but I am grateful she had the opportunity.


18 thoughts on “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

  1. Angela – I feel your pain. I would be angry as well. As you stated you should be grateful for Leah to have the opportunity to have such a wonderful and talented teacher.

  2. life so often just isn’t fair, is it? I’m so sorry for this situation, but absolutely be grateful for the time your daughter had this experience of this amazing teacher.

  3. Lynn says:

    Wow what a wonderful tribute to him as a teacher! It sounds like it will be very hard to replace him. I’m a bit surprised he couldn’t stick it out as well but I understand too. Agree be grateful your daughter had the experience! Best of luck!

  4. Wow! Such raw emotion, so perfectly written. I hope you will consider sharing this with Leah’s teacher. Your anger and sadness helped create one of the most beautiful teacher tributes I’ve ever read. He may feel sad about leaving causing you pain, but ultimately, he will feel incredibly honored.

    1. Thanks Darlene for such a heartfelt comment. I considered sharing it with him but then wasn’t am going to because I didn’t want him to feel any worse and thought maybe my words were too harsh. But, thanks to you I think I will share!

  5. aw, I’m sorry. So many emotions all at once, sadness and anger fighting with happiness. Leah has been blessed to have such a wonderful teacher! She will take that with her for the rest of her life. That’s why the emotion happiness, wins.

  6. What a difficult situation to deal with! It sounds like Leah’s teacher was a perfect match for her. I think you are exactly right, though. She had the benefit of his instruction for almost the entire school year, and that IS something to be grateful for.

  7. This has to be so hard for Leah. You different emotions are reflected so well in this piece. You are a strong mom and will help Leah through it. She may help you too.

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