Day 29 of 31
From 2007 through 2011 I worked as the librarian in my children’s school. It was the perfect job for me since it was only 3 days a week and I was able to read stories all day long to the Kindergarten-Third Graders. Reading to cute kids all day, what could be better? All was well but I began to think about returning to the classroom full time. I wasn’t sure if I wanted, or had the energy, to go back to full time teaching but I was starting to miss the classroom. I had already been a teacher for 12 years, had recently completed treatment for cancer and was unsure if I should go back. Also, because I was fairly certain I would die pretty soon, I didn’t really want to traumatize other people’s children.
Spoiler alert: I did not die.
The last year I was in the library I got to know a first grader, named Chase. Chase was one of those students who loved listening to stories but would often have difficulty sitting for the entire story, which is not unusual for many 6 year olds. He had an amazing personality, was super creative and had great insight into the characters. He, like my one daughter, thought outside the box and his smile would melt my heart.
I remember reading the story, Calvin Can’t Fly to Chase’s class. Chase was sitting right in front of me while I held the book so the students could see the pictures while I read to them. The story is about a bird named Calvin. Instead of learning to fly like his siblings and cousins do during flying classes, Calvin spends his time reading books in the library and letting his imagination run away with him. He opted out of his flying lessons. Soon it is time for all the starlings to fly south but Calvin can’t fly so he stands, with a book under his wing, and a tear rolling down his face while he watches his family fly away.
I read the story with lots of feeling, because, I mean, that’s how I read and talk. I looked down at Chase, sitting in his spot right in front of me and noticed that he had a tear in his eye while his mouth was turned down into the cry position. He raised his hand and didn’t wait for me to call on him. With a very concerned voice he said, “Oh no! Mrs. Clark! Calvin’s family flew away from him. It’s so sad. He is all alone.” I quickly redirected him and said, “It’s ok. I don’t think the story is over yet.” Next, I leaned down and whispered to the class, but mostly to Chase, “Let’s see what happens.” I finished the story and Chase let out a relieved sigh. Adorable, right?
The following week the principal called me into his office and told me that a second grade teaching position would be opening up the following year and if I wanted it I could have it. I was still uncertain because we all know how much work it is to be a classroom teacher. I thought about it overnight. The next day I met with the principal and told him that I decided to go for it on one condition…that Chase would be placed in my class.
My first year back in the classroom was spent with 21 amazing 2nd graders and yes, Chase was one of them. Coming back into the classroom full time was something I thought I would never do, but I am so glad I went for it. Chase ended up being one of those enthusiastic new readers and helped me to feel like I could teach again when I was unsure. He was full of energy and sometimes he was a lot-but so am I. I think we understood each other. He never thought inside the box and that was the best part about being his teacher. The last day of school as I hugged all the students goodbye, I hugged Chase a little more than the others. Not because he needed it, but because I did.