When I think about my school, I smell the wafting scent of freshly cut grass, eucalyptus trees, and hear the pitter patter of rain on a thin roof. I hear the hum and chatter of my students as they move from classroom to classroom, punctuated by a shriek of laughter or a bell ushering us to class. A small breeze drifts its way into my classroom, stirring my gauzy white curtains. I feel the sticky hot cold leather of my chair on my back and legs. I turn a worn down pencil in my hands round and round. “This pencil belongs to Miss Mahler” it reads, in cheery navy blue writing on a smudged white background, its eraser down to a small nub. A back to school gift from my mother, who knows that school supplies will still make me excited for Fall.
I’ve finally perfected my first day of school smile, outfit and teacher sayings, after starting my first day once in September and twice in August here. I have no words to describe the pain of hearing that my school isn’t a viable option anymore, that the school board can’t measure the weight of my students smile’s and their sticky hugs like they do enrollment numbers and SAT scores. I have stood painfully in heels for dreadfully long back to school nights, but I would give all the shoes in my closet to have one more back to school night at my school with my rising seniors.
Just last week I was planning my fall rosters, gleefully picking which students would return in my honors class and which would return in my AP and actually looking forward to having three sections of sophomores. On Monday, I listened to 32 parents, students, graduates and siblings describe the impact that our school has had on them, tearfully begging and pleading with our school board to change their mind about making the 2015-2016 school year our last for our San Jose campus.
Most people have a job where they have “love to hate” conversations, where they bash things about their job, myself included have vented to my parents about various things. I’m human after-all. But my mother had to deal with my tearful phone call last week describing the immense and overwhelming loss I felt upon hearing that we, and our hard work over the last few years has been deemed not enough. It has been in the 1.5 weeks since hearing that our school will be closing, that I have really understood the “burnout feeling” that has been described to me by former teachers. The heart can only take so much before closing down or putting up walls. My students and I trudge towards the end of the year with a heavy heart. I am trying to treasure every last minute I have with them, and take mental pictures of their cute faces, of my classroom and it’s messy, loud, artsy, warm feel. I want each day to last forever, because I know I only have 12 more days with my seniors and a few more than that with my underclassman.
I hope to take enough pictures to last me a lifetime, because this is a hurt that will take a long time to heal.
Your blonde, quirky, loving art teacher, forever and always yours,
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