The Long Goodbye

Originally posted on Stories from Schools AZ

 

This is dedicated to the Basha High School Class of 2020. My sweet, smart, empathetic, hilarious, amazing senior class. You will forever have a place in my heart. You made me love teaching at a time where it was almost impossible. 

And to those not at my school, you will forever hold that place in my heart and the hearts of many. I am amazed by your resilience and grace. And man, am I glad that you are the youth going out into the world. 

 

Here is my goodbye speech:


 

I hate goodbyes. I’m usually the person who says it quickly and leaves.

This year, before spring break, I was interviewing for a job that would take me out of public education for now. Everything was going well, and I knew over break that I would need to make the decision. I had planned to do so, come back and have an amazing last quarter.

As we all know, that was not the case.

Instead of teaching my students, I’m creating content to keep them engaged in politics and government online while sitting in sweatpants and wishing to be dancing and singing in the halls as I greet my students each day or even student that were not in my classroom.

Instead of hanging out with my colleagues at work, I “see” them only in meetings online and I miss them greatly. I get fun emails with inside jokes, but it’s just not the same as yelling “GOOD MORNING MR. SCHICHE!” down the hall to my colleague, or teaching right next door to my wonderful husband. (PS We met at Basha and that is the very best thing about my time there– Mr. and Mrs. Evans!)  I will miss Mr. Timm walking to my room… “What’s up, dude?” or Mrs. Burge putting her lunch away and touching my shoulder to let me know she has my back. Mr. Kummerer or Ms. Reynolds hanging in my room just to make sure I’m ok.  Or not being able to start the day without Reischl saying, “Top of the morning”

Basha Staff, you are a part of me forever. YOU have been a huge part in the growth of me. I love you guys so much.

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Instead of chaperoning my last prom with the most amazing senior class and seeing them all dressed up,  I’ll be sitting at home with my husband and daughter for whom I love dearly, but I will miss my colleagues and students all dressed up and deliriously happy.

Instead of signing yearbooks, we’ll send emails and promise to keep in touch for those who are still around during this time.

Instead of the closure of graduation, things are up in the air. I just want to have an admin block me from hugging all my students as they come off the stage and see those faces beaming as receive their diploma.

Instead of spending the day after cleaning out my classroom and saying goodbye to my colleagues, I will have to pack my classroom with my sweet husband and clean out all of the memories of my amazing time at Basha High School in the stillness.

Instead of saying “See you next year” to the teachers I mentor and listening to their lives, I have to say “I’m still here if I’m not on campus but I have you always” You all have been the best part of me. Thank you for letting me into your lives, your classrooms, and your hearts even when I had to shove my way in.

Instead of going to the front office for candy and the sweet greeting of the amazing front office staff, my front office staff will be my coffee maker at home. You ladies don’t realize how sometimes you were the reason I didn’t walk straight out the door. Thank you for your love and support during the best and worst times.

Instead of waving at the security guards who cared about me as a person more than anything, I will have to watch them from afar make an impact on the lives of our students and teachers. Thank you for “guarding” our hearts as well as our school.

Instead of saying goodnight to our lovely support staff who kept our school clean and running, I’ll have to close my eyes and see their faces. Joe, every single morning I got here early you said hello and I know you made sure I got into the building safe and sound. I was never alone.

The hardest part is that I’m not leaving because I don’t like my job (which is clearly obvious). I love my job, my school, my students, and my colleagues. The choice to leave was to pursue a dream job that has me engrossed in the world of social studies and providing professional development to teachers around the nation and let me be a more present mom to the most important almost 4th grader in the whole world. I almost wonder if this has made this goodbye even harder, or if it’s easier.

For the past 17 years, I have poured my blood, sweat, and tears into public education and it feels strange and sad that this is the end. Sitting at home in front of a computer. No hugs, no goodbyes, just a day to stop working and get all your grades in. Watching as your amazing colleagues apply for your department chair job and hire your replacement. My thoughts have always been if you are a good leader, the place you leave won’t skip a beat. I hope I was a good leader.

I empathize with the seniors. You work so hard, for so long and you think that there will be a goodbye. You know because your entire educational career has been ruled by bells, due dates, and other school activities. You think you’ll have the ability to say goodbye, to do everything one last time…

This year, we weren’t given that chance. My seniors won’t get the paper toss, the senior sunset, Prom, graduation, or their final Moot Court, which many of them really looked forward to.

Seniors, I am so sorry. I am here with you.

So, we start to say the long goodbye. Each event that doesn’t happen, we have to grieve and say goodbye. It’s a long, painful goodbye. It’s grieving what we thought could have been, and looking forward with uncertainty.

Seniors, I am sorry you will miss all of this.

Teacher, who won’t be back next year, I am so sorry you will miss all of this.

My hope for you is that college graduation will be that much grander! That moving through your vocational training and going out on your own will have that sense of accomplishment. That when you get married to the love of your life, or you see your child for the first time, you get those tears in your eyes.

There are more celebrations coming. For now, be sad but know that the copious amount of happy isn’t too far behind.

About Elizabeth Schley-Evans, NBCT

AP Government and Politics teacher making the world better one person at a time.

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