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Dear Graduate: As A Teacher, Watching You Grow Up Amazed Me

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TEACHER AND GRADUATE
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Dear Graduate,

It's June, kid, and you can hardly wait. The days are getting longer while your time with us in school is getting shorter. You are so ready. So done. Can you even believe that the moment has nearly arrived?

You will, in a few short weeks, pack all you own, load your car and head out into the big, wide world. Your journey might take you on the road to college or university. Or perhaps it will lead you toward adventure and travel. There might be a job already waiting with your name on it.

Whatever the path on which you decide to embark, life is certain to surprise and astonish you. And that is a guarantee.

I may have never taught you, but I want you to hear this: I feel I know you. I taught you, kid. Or versions of you. Taught you in kindergarten, in Grade 3, again in Grade 5 and in Grade 7. You moved quickly through the years. And now you are finally here, at the pinnacle of your secondary schooling career.

You've reached the top, kid. This is it.

You amaze me! That these years have slipped away so fast leaves me almost breathless.

But there was a time when you were a younger version of who you are today. And those youthful versions of you, from days already gone by, those versions of who you are today: I am sure I glimpsed a few of them, even this morning, as I walked classrooms and hallways in school corridors just like the one you will leave for the very last time, at the end of June.

Even this morning, I watched a version of your former self read to me a piece he'd written. He was eager to share his writing craft -- there was such a sense of pride as he handed me over his words. Words he'd chosen and thought about and stitched together to form a beautiful whole. As I took that precious writing into my own hands, I realized what a privilege it was to be the one selected to glimpse inside a child's mind.

Again today, I watched a version of your former self chat with me about snap shots, slap shots and wrist shots. I told him I wasn't sure how to do one- would he explain how. And he set out to do just that. Writing the words painstakingly on lined paper. I saw the earnestness in his expression. He was intent on getting it just right. I'm sure he will. He's a writer, that's why!

Yes, today I watched a version of your former self hand me a story she had just written. It was three pages long, and she beamed with pride as her hands reached toward mine. I touched the papers reverently and told her they were my utmost priority. And as I did read carefully through three, single-spaced, lined pages, I remembered that not so many days ago, this very child had told me: I hate writing. Her face punctuating her words delivered with a force and emphasis that had now all but disappeared. For here she was standing before me -- offering me stories composed with hints of mystery and intrigue. And she was LOVING that she could do this. That she could write it all down.

And so, today I watched a version of your former self reading. She was so intent on remembering exactly the information she had been given to read -- this, so that she could speak to the answers with clarity and precision. Her face, serious and void of expression. Wanting to get the words just right, get the answers right, the prompts leading her where she needed to go. And she did what she set out to do. I am still trying to find the "just right" reading material for her, so adept is she at her task of synthesizing the gist of the articles.

Today I watched a version of your former self, kid.

Sometimes you were sad. Sometimes you were happy. Sometimes my heart broke just wondering where your own dear heart would be in a few short years. Childhood is such a tender time.

And now, here you are: graduating. The growing years are over.

Dear graduate, you are finally here. But in your face, I see glimpses of your five-year-old face, your seven-year-old face, your 10-year old-face and your 15-year-old face. Many versions of you that have blended and fused together to make you who you are today. All part and parcel of who you are becoming.

As a version of your former teacher, I salute you and tip my hat in your direction. You amaze me! That these years have slipped away so fast leaves me almost breathless.

May you never forget who you were, nor lose sight of who you are as you travel the road toward who you are becoming -- as you move in directions that will allow you to discover who you are truly meant to be.

All my best, kid.

A Version of Your Former Teacher

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