Last Friday… I watched as rowdy children, bursting with the anticipation of summer vacation, played on our school playground. A few hours later I supervised many of them as they waited for their parents to pick them up for the last time this school year. After most were gone, our principal played Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off over the p.a. system, and the remaining kids danced in delight.
I walked through the back hall where the last of the “bus children” were waiting and then sat on the steps outside my building..waiting to see that last bus as it pulled away from the school.
And just like that a 33 year teaching career was over.
The day before that, all the teachers in the building surprised me by bringing in snacks to celebrate my retirement…everything from olive dip to 3 different flavors of brownies to fruit to apples and Heath Brickle dip and more…lots more! It was very thoughtful of them (and delicious!) So over the weekend I got an idea to make one last party for them since this would be my last opportunity to do so. I wanted to thank them for being my “second family” for soooo many years.
I shopped on Saturday, made chalkboard things and figured out serving pieces on Sunday afternoon, and spent Monday preparing the food. (Monday was a holiday, and we still had 2 days of post planning at the school this week.)
Here is how it all turned out…
As you can see, there were chocolate dipped strawberries, jars of cookies, a jar of hugs and kisses, (I couldn’t resist!) cheese straws, cucumber sandwiches, brownies, pimento cheese and crackers, banana bread, cranberry orange pound cake, red velvet cupcakes, nuts, pecan bars, and tomato sandwiches.
Most of the food came from Fresh Market, but I did make the 2 kinds of sandwiches, the brownies, and the chocolate dipped strawberries. Those basil tomato sandwiches were by far everyone’s favorite. The recipe was on the blog 2 years ago here, but I kept getting asked for it so I am putting that recipe on here again.
The little black cards on the table were quote cards I found in the stationery section of Target.
I liked them so much, I decided to copy one of them and use it on a gift for everyone. (My friends have showered me with gifts and gift cards to restaurants, Lowe’s, a bakery, Pottery Barn and more these last 2 weeks. All too much!) So I wrapped up a candle in a plastic gift bag and tied on one of the quote cards with a red ribbon. I loaded them all in my wagon (that thing has really come in handy this week!) and delivered them to all the staff early Wednesday morning.
On Wednesday afternoon, we had our end of the year luncheon (with yummy barbecue and all the fixings!) where those of us who were leaving were recognized. Goodness what a bittersweet time this has been! I had written a letter and sent it to all my teacher friends that morning saying goodbye and urging them to speak up when there are problems in education. I have been quite….um…opinionated (that’s the nice word my principal used) in my career, so I wanted to encourage them to be the same. I knew there was no way I was going to be able to talk after they had spoken about me at the luncheon, and boy am I glad I wrote it because I think I might have gotten out 2 sentences. I was just too choked up.
And then there was this gift from the school ….
What a thoughtful and smart present. It even has my name on a plaque on the back of the chair. They also gave me a yearbook with comments from all the staff written in it (that really made me tear up!) and a 10 layer chocolate cake that we have been enjoying waaay too much!
You may remember my classroom from a post back in August…
One last look…
(I’m trying to figure out what to do with that loveseat for my daughter’s apartment.)
This is where the handy dandy wagon has been all those years (on top of the closet.)
And this was one last look when I closed the door on Wednesday afternoon.
It felt so much like this scene from You’ve Got Mail.
I made the decision to retire last winter. If someone had told me then how emotionally hard this was going to be, I would have said they were crazy. I thought I would be so happy I would be turning cartwheels across the stage! (Don’t worry…I’ve never been able to do a cartwheel.) It is a major change in life with a roller coaster of emotions. At the end of my long letter to all my teacher friends, I included a link to this musical video with lyrics that perfectly expressed my feelings.
I spent yesterday paying bills and feeling drained, but… enough with the sadness and looking back! It’s a bright sunny summery Friday with a great weekend ahead, and this card is on my desk today.
Yes, it is time to start this second chapter…the fun one! Thank you for letting me share this “scrapbook page” from real life, and thank you for all your super kind comments about retiring in the previous post. Know that you are such a blessing to me! I’m closing this chapter of my life with one last video… an upbeat one for your Friday!
Until next time…