Monday, July 4, 2011

Graduation 2011

As a middle school teacher who works with eighth graders, one of my responsibilities is to present the social studies awards to our graduating class. Rather than just dive right in to listing the names of those who excelled throughout the year, I take the opportunity to say my "official" goodbye to the students I've worked with for two years.

It's never an easy task to say "goodbye" to students you've grown quite fond of. But, this year was even harder. I knew as I spoke these words that I would not be addressing a graduating class again; I will no longer be teaching eighth graders. Perhaps I should be thankful that next year I won't have to stand up in front of hundreds of parents, grandparents, students, faculty and staff, and share my personal thoughts.


After graduation, a number of parents and several of my co-workers asked if they could have a copy of what I said to my students. I was more than happy to oblige as it made me feel wonderful that I had managed to touch a few people. Of course, if I was willing to share my words with my school community, I knew I would also want to share them with the members of my PLN.

The following is from our eighth grade awards ceremony, June 3, 2011.

Good morning, Eighth Grade!
 I would like to share a passage with you that I found recently. A little reminder for you as you leave us:
"It’s so important to surround yourself with the right kinds of people when you are striving to live a meaningful life. We cannot always choose whom we walk with on our paths in life, but whenever we can, it makes everything easier, more joyful, and so much more productive when we choose to spend our days with people who bring out the best in us, see the best in us, and believe the best about us. Seek people who make you want to become a better person, the kinds of people who are focusing on positive and good things in life. It will inevitably rub off on you and before you know it, YOU will be the one that others are seeking out because YOU are leaving everyone better, happier, and more hopeful than they were before you found them. You have SO MUCH more influence than you know."
 [as quoted in Tales of the Revolution: True Stories of People who are Poking the Box and Making a Difference by Seth Godin]
I can honestly tell you today, that because of all of you, my world has been a better, happier, and more hopeful place. And, as hard as it is to say goodbye, as much as I will miss you, it is time for you to go. You see, there is much work to be done, and you’re ready to begin it.
Former football coach Lou Holtz once said, “I can't believe that God put us on this earth to be ordinary.” Today, we say goodbye to 36 extraordinary individuals. I am so proud of each and every one of you. I know that each of you will do great things. I expect nothing less.
Our theme this year was Imagination. I would ask you today to imagine the future you want for yourselves, and then go out and make it happen. And remember, who you are and who you will become are not defined by what others may say. You create that definition every day of your life with every choice you make. So, choose wisely, my friends.

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