Slice of appreciation. 

 I can’t believe this is my second year of teaching. 

That’s all that went through my head as the lights dimmed in Carnegie Hall in preparation for the 32nd New York Pops birthday gala black tie affair. I couldn’t help but hum Rent’s “Halloween” in thinking, “How did I get here? How the hell..” How did my teaching plot line end up like this.. going from graduate to gala attendee? One of my students was performing that night, and I knew that, above all the thoughtful contemplation, the greatest mistake I had made was leaving the Kleenex at home.

I never really imagined my second year going this way.. PARCCing, editing the school newspaper, directing the play, attending a nationally acclaimed gala event, and so on.  Truthfully, I never allowed myself to consider how my second year would be out of sheer and utter fear of not having one. When September rolled around, I was faced with the same cherubs from last year and a new curriculum to teach, and now, with just about two months left of school, I’m slowly easing myself into the motions of saying goodbye to them as they leave the nest and move forward to eight grade. Slowly. It’s not going to end well, friends; I mean, I lose it when I find things like these intertwined with my poetry assignments:

“We love Ms. Sunshine.
She is our best grown up friend.
Leaving her, I cry.”

I’m proud to say that I’m a second year teacher, that I survived the proverbial gulag that was the first. I’m proud that I’ve kept some things and have tossed some things and have figured out that it’s totally acceptable to review and reinvent every now and again. I’m proud that I’ve accepted challenges; I’m proud that I’ve picked myself up after a challenge whooped my ass. I’m proud that I have found my niche and, within those bounds, have unleashed so many facets of my personality that the students had yet experienced. I’m proud that for once in my short lived career, I have felt and still feel so dedicated to the work that I am doing that I want to sing from the rooftops – amid “nants ingonyamas” and “oh busa simba iyo’s” – that I am here, a teacher of words dawned in her blue and gold, here to take on the world with a fierce bunch of poets and powerhouses. This may sound pompous as all hell, but I appreciate myself during this teacher appreciation week, because the self that’s writing this is certainly not the same woman who started this blog what feels like eons ago.

And, of course, I’m proud of my kids. Good god, I’m proud of them. My athletes and my actors, my chronic write-ups and my Carnegie Hall performers. They’ve made tears shed and hairs go grey, but every hook, every poem, and every question reflects growth.

I just.. I love them all in a way only a momma could.

-Ms. Momma to Ninety and then some


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