Friday, May 31, 2013

Swirl & Twirl

Today is one of my FAVORITE people's last day of work.  My lovely and amazing mentor is retiring.  It's hard to put into words what she means to me.  And completely true to say that she has changed my life.

I am honored to speak today at a program in honor of our building retirees.  I am going to share with you my speech.  Hopefully you get a chance to tell your mentor(s) what she/he/they mean to you.

Seven years ago I was P's student teacher.  I knew it was going to be a good experience when I met her.  But I didn't know how unique it would be.  One day early on in student teaching, I got a glimpse of this when I walked in the room and she was dancing around and singing, "Loosen Up My Buttons." 

Since then, P and I have had many experiences together.  We've gone to conferences, concerts, classes, New York City, and our principal's daughter's soccer games.  P always lives life at full volume, and we love her for her crazy attitude.  But she also has so much passion, depth, soul, honesty, wisdom, and love.  And she shares these qualities with her students and creates community where students can explore each of these facets for themselves.

When I think about P's legacy, I think of the way she infuses writing into every lesson she teaches, the poetry slams she has started, her SIXTEEN student teachers (including me and a district principal), and the FUN she brings to her classroom and the staff.  It will truly be missed and is irreplacable.  P also has a great sense of what matters.

In student teaching, P said to me one day, "I can teach you the content and strategies, but you have to learn to swirl and twirl on your own."  That phrase has stuck with me and I know it always will.  Thank you, P, for teaching me that swirling and twirling and HOW we teach and make students feel matters more than any content we will ever teach them.  That is the legacy she leaves with me.

When I was intoduced to the staff as a new hire the principal stood up and said, 'This is Amy.  She'll be teaching 5th grade and she was P's student teacher.' 

P yelled out from the crowd, 'But I'd like her to be my daughter-in-law.'  Although that never came true, I want you to know how honored I am to call you my teaching mama.  It has been a true privilege to learn from the best.  P, pookie, mamasita, I love you and wish you all the best in retirement.  Thank you for changing my life.

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