Today I quipped to our kindergarten assistant, "I must be wearing a shirt that says HUG ME!" I couldn't make it two steps into the hallway, as the kindergarten groups passed by on their way to fine arts and gym, without getting at least 5 hugs.
I signed over 50 yearbooks during our 5th grade softball game, and I heard many times, "I'll miss you this summer."
As one of the first graders left school today, she asked if she could give me a hug. Usually she's very preoccupied with everyone else, but today she wanted to let me know, "I don't know what I'll do this summer when I can't see you."
I only work directly with 25 students during a year. Of course, I'm pretty talkative and I know many of our 400 students by name. The students who needed to give and receive hugs weren't any students I work with on a daily basis.
I think it's sinking in for our students that they are leaving our warm, caring environment. They won't have teachers to talk with. Some won't see their friends very often (or at all). A few know they will be at home with their siblings, inside until a parent returns from work.
I'm all about enjoying a lengthy summer vacation (I need to recharge!), but for many of the students at our school, that means a disconnection from people who care about them; a change in their routine; a really quiet stretch of boring days.
My friends tease me about my "seasonal job." I tell them that it's time we rethink the calendar and find a way to keep kids learning and engaged year-round. Not everyone has the means or the time to head to the zoo, lay on a beach or dine out during the summer.
I'll miss the students, too.