As we send another successful graduating class on to middle school, I can't help but reflect on the importance of the role we at WMS play in the early education of our students - and what that means as they grow and mature.
I recently received a letter from a former student; she is now 26 years old. In her letter she writes "I'm 26. I went to WMS from when I was little until I was in 6th grade. It was a while ago, though. I've graduated from high school and college, done AmeriCorps, taught in a Montessori school for 3 years, and returned to grad school in library science since then... (It feels weird, like I'm skipping the highlights of my life by saying that.) Recently, the honeysuckles have started blooming, and I've started thinking about WMS again....I spent a lot of time at your school, and the place and the people in it are still a large part of me. I wanted to let my old teachers know that they made a difference in my life. It's okay if they don't remember me... I wanted them to know I remember them... and I remember the things they taught me."
The author goes on to cite specific memories. Not big lessons that we may automatically associate with elementary school such as learning to read or do long division, but small yet impactful memories - making a mosaic with the art teacher, getting a special snack at the right moment, playing cooperative games and using recycled objects to make small things. Small moments in time - that upon reflection as an adult become clearer as lessons in compassion, cooperation, empathy, perseverance and kindness.
The author closes with the following: "I could keep going, but I think I've made my point...(I think what I'm trying to say is that you made a lasting impression in my life. A part of who I am, I am because of my early teachers.)." As our graduates met with me in my annual "lunch with the sixth graders" they too shared that they already have a sense that it is the personal connections and life lessons they have learned that will stay with them as they go forward. Those lessons will become clearer the further along life's path they travel.
We are celebrating graduation this week then - not just as the ceremony that marks the end of our students' journey here - but a celebration of who they are and excitement about the life paths they will undertake. We wish them well!