The Clap Out to End all Clap Outs

I’m not sure I should wear mascara today.

I’m always a mess the last day of school, and can barely get through my end of year circle with my kindergartners, as I tell them I will always love them, to keep reading and writing and believing in themselves and in magic and be kind and I promise you’ll see me again. I tell them about the “Spot your teacher” summer game, where every time you see me in the summer you get a point. Then I hug and kiss each one on the head and tell them I love them as they leave my classroom, one year older and a reader and writer and in my heart forever.

We also do a clap out. We all line the hallways and the fourth graders take one last loop around the building and hug their teachers goodbye as they are cheered on by the children and staff.

Today is also the day my last child leaves my building. For the last eleven years, I’ve had one of my children in the building with me. I got pregnant with Quinn my first year there, so technically, Quinn started in Aquebogue with me. Twelve years I’ve driven to school with one of my kids with me. Twelve years I’ve walked the halls and heard “Mom!”. Madison and Morgan are coming with me to clap out their brother, as well as Mr Kent.

Yes.

We are also clapping out our beloved principal. We are anticipating the “ugly cry”. How do you say goodbye to a man who has been the lighthouse, keeping the light shining bright whenever the waves were tossing and turning your boat on the seas of educational reform? How do you say goodbye to the man who was the anchor, keeping you in the harbor of safety? I came to the building with PTSD, after having a negative experience with an administrator. I actually would shake whenever I had to go to his office. Within a year I felt strong again. Confident, and free to do what was right for the children. Supported, respected, and treated with kindness. He is loved by the children, and by the families. He greets every child every morning by name as they walk in the building and stand by the buses at the end of the day to say goodbye, rain, sleet or snow. He tells the kids on announcements to put their best foot forward, and always to end the day on a positive note. His door is always open to students, staff and families. He has prayed, held my hands, hugged me, cried, and helped me know I can continue to work through the cancer treatments and he has had my back. He took selfies in the summer whenever I came in before chemo as I went to the hospital.

Mr Kent is a leader, as well as a friend.

So yes…

We will have the ugly cry today.

I’ve been texting and messaging former students and parents and we hope to have a large group of alumni on the sidewalk for the big bus goodbye, as the buses go round and round the circle, honking horns as the staff stands and cries and waves and blows kisses.

Yup.

Big ugly cry.

We had the assembly yesterday with Squeaky Clean, and we danced and danced. We gave Mr Kent a big tree on a piece of paper with every child’s fingerprint as a leaf. I packed up my room as penny stuffed the welcome letters for August for my new batch of kinders. One chapter ending and the next already beginning.

I emailed my oncologist requesting she look at some studies about adding a drug to my protocol called Celebrex. There is a study that adding an anti inflammatory can attack the cancer at the stem cell level. I found it funny that the drug capecitibine is also called “5. FU”. We will see what she says.

Today I’ll let the kids play and play, hug, kiss, cry, then I’m opening up my house for any staff that wants to simply sit by the pool and relax. Some are bringing their kids so my kids will also have fun.

Wish us all good luck today, as we send off the children who entered our classrooms ten months ago and became a part of our hearts and stories. Wish us luck as we say goodbye to a man that every school should be so lucky to have as their leader.

And wish me luck as I clap out my last child from aquebogue. The one who started in my belly my first year there, and was loved so hard and so beautiful during the last almost three years through his stress, anxiety and worries about his mom. These teachers and staff administrators have helped me raise my children as they started their schooling.

We are so very blessed.

Here’s to new chapters for us all.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

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