Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 25 2012

Last, not last.

More and more, I feel finality doesn’t exist. Closure is a pipe dream. “The end” is as ridiculous in real life as it is at the end of one of my sixth graders’ essays, or anything other than a fairy tale. No finality, just a continuum.

Today is the last day of my Teach For America commitment. I finished teaching kids on Monday, after they walked away from promotion in their fancy clothes. I finally had a chance to meet Brax’s mom and baby brother. His aunt intentionally pulled me aside after the ceremony to introduce us. My heart broke meeting her, thinking of Brax, of his life, of how far he has come.

He left my room screaming, literally, rousing the entire class into “oh-eighteen” chants, their high school graduation year. He lingered much longer than he had to, not to talk to me but to stand near his desk, hands up in his black collared shirt and black pants. He was so professional at the ceremony; he did everything right. I will miss that boy so, so much.

I wrote each student in my homeroom notes of varying lengths. Told them how proud I was that they made it to earn a behavior award, that they were the strongest singers I’ve ever heard, that they were leaders, that they are ready for junior high.

The end of the week came with invitations for more responsibility at school: chairing our ACSIP (Arkansas Comprehensive School Improvement Plan) Committee; going to learn to be a trainer for RTI (Response to intervention– AKA methods to pull up students that are falling behind). Not sure I’ll do either, but couldn’t say anything when my principal told me, “Caroline, we are so glad you are staying. Everyone leaving … I think if you left, too, we would just fall apart.”

There is not a single, tiny, pinpointed part of me that would want my decisions to be any different.

I’ve been in touch with the five new corps members we’re getting for the next two years. I am beside myself with excitement for their arrival. We’re sorting out housing and introducing ourselves via email. I’m that much more excited to be a CMA, because it means I get to meet them as soon as they arrive in Cleveland. I’m already thinking of tiny gifts to give them, meal plans for our weekly dinner, and future dog walks of the pooch that’s coming with our new art teacher.

As for the eight that are leaving– I can’t write about it yet. Maybe not until their gone, when I feel the impact of not being able to walk to Leaf & Sarah’s house; when I can’t depend on Laura to be “the late one” with me when we leave the house, when I don’t hear the boys drinking a nightcap and talking about school in the kitchen. These eight people are likely some of the closest friends I have literally ever had in my life. The circumstances of TFA don’t leave much room for it to be any different.

I’ve been so blessed, so so blessed, for the past two years of my life. I have learned, I have grown, I have taught, I have experienced. Though there are so many flaws, so many holes in politics and data and ethics and theory with Teach For America… I am overwhelmed with gratitude for its existence; for the places I have had the privilege to see and live and experience, for the people I have been in awe of and inspired by, for the life-altering title I have somehow earned of being a corps member. And though humility is something I try to keep in check, I am so so proud to be a 2010 delta alumni.

3 Responses

  1. Cindy

    So proud of all you have accomplished – all the kids who passed through you to their futures – way to go and go on, Caroline!

  2. Congratulations and thank you for sharing your experience for the past two years. I hope you continue to blog in the future!

  3. Jenna

    I love this! I’m moving to the Delta soon enough, and I hope in two years I can feel some of what you have shared.

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