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Friday, June 6, 2014

Dear Class {2014},

School is over and our summers have started.  And there are so many memories we have made and shared this year...

I don't want to forget the butterflies in my stomach on the first day of school.  You all were nervous because you had never been in first grade before.  But this was my 8th year teaching first grade.  And I STILL had butterflies in my stomach.  I wondered what you would be like? Would you like me? Would I like you?

I don't want to forget the instant the butterflies flew away and I saw your smiling faces.

I don't want to forget the time Holly told me about her conversation with her sister. "Mrs. Shaddock, Caroline was right! You are a nice teacher!"

I don't want to forget the moment I found out Sarai's mom passed away suddenly during the second week of school.  But mostly, I don't want to forget the way you each accepted the news so easily and cared for our friend.  I don't want to forget the voluntary hugs you gave her and the many times you listened to her "mom" stories again and again.  And the time Gage suggested that Sarai post her note she wrote about her mom next to her desk so she could see it each day.  I don't want to forget the time Zoe was so concerned with Sarai's feelings around Mother's Day that she asked how she should handle talking about Mother's Day with Sarai.  I don't want to forget the amount of life lessons I learned from each of my first graders about dealing with grief and being caring and empathetic towards others.  I hope you never forget the power of loving each other.

I don't want to forget the countless jokes some of you told all. year. long.  Several of you even enjoyed writing your own jokes...that you thought were hilarious...but didn't make sense. At all.  Not even a little bit.  Like my all time favorite joke told by Milena: "Mrs. Shaddock, I have a joke for you.  What did the chicken say to the cow? ...You're purple!" I don't want to forget the way I laughed with you...even though you thought I was laughing at the joke, when really I was just laughing at the carefree silliness of it all! I hope you never forget the power of laughter!

I don't want to forget the amount of huggers in this class!  I do not ever remember having this many students that hugged this much.  From Gage's 2 minute hugs to Victor's middle of a lesson hugs {who can be mad at a kid for interrupting a lesson for a hug??}, they each were so special.  I hope you never forget the power of a hug!

I don't want to forget the way you loved on my sweet Cooper when he came to visit.  The way you asked me questions about him and how he was doing.  I don't want to forget telling our class about my needing to take him to the doctor for shots and Matthew telling me he was praying that Cooper wouldn't be scared...and then asking the next day how he did at the doctor.  I'll always remember the pure joy on Imanol's face when Cooper voluntarily hugged him...priceless!  And I'll never forget the time Joel told Cooper he was almost as tall as Rickson {a sweet tiny boy in our room!}  I hope you never forget the power of showing interest and caring for others.

I don't want to forget the way you talked to each other so respectfully.  I was so proud of how well you complimented each other.  Even though we practiced it from day 1, my heart leaped for joy when I heard many of you complimenting each other on your own...without my asking!  And I sure don't want to forget the time back in September when Matthew suddenly said, "Hey, Joel, you haven't had to change your color all day!" and the rest of you followed with, "Good job, Joel!"  I hope you never forget the power of compliments.

I don't want to forget the day before ITBS testing when we got a brand new student in our classroom who spoke Pohpeian and no English!  You all took little Carlos under your wings and helped him adjust to our room so quickly.  I don't want to forget when Bella told me Carlos did speak English because he nodded his head at her when she asked him if he knew English!  And then when Bella told Imanol, "Just because you say it slow doesn't mean he understands you!"  I don't want to forget the special bond that Noah formed with Carlos.  He cared for Carlos like a son and taught him everything about our classroom saying, "Come, Carlos" or "Carlos, I show you!"  He even stuck his finger in his ears at the Stick Horse Rodeo to clean out the ear wax! {Yes, I told him to stop!} ;) I hope you never forget the power of teaching others new things.

I don't want to forget the moment at the end of our first day of school when we were all on the carpet except for Joel.  When I asked where Joel was, he jumped up from behind a shelf in our room and yelled, "Boo!" and we all immediately laughed...and then I explained to Joel {who had moved here only weeks before from the Marshall Islands} that it was not okay to do things like that when it was time to come to the carpet! I hope you never forget the power of spontaneity!

I don't want to forget the musical talent in this class...from singing to dancing to stomping!  I don't want to forget the time Jillian sang me a song at recess that she wrote about Jesus!  And the time Bella and Holly led the entire class in singing the entire score of Frozen when we watched it on the last day of school! I hope you never forget the power of music!

I don't want to forget the intense--yes, I mean INTENSE--amount of crying from every.last.one of you on our intern's last day at Turnbow.  It was impossible to calm you down from the thought of never getting to see her again!  I don't want to forget the fact that you were still audibly "boo-hooing" and hugging each other all the way to the buses...and the next morning when 3 of you told me you had cried all the way home on the bus.  I hope you never forget the power of bonding with others.

I don't want to forget the sweet gifts I got from you all this year.  From the door signs, stationary, handmade banana leaf purse and monogrammed cup, to the candy, painted pictures, coloring pages and sweet handwritten notes I received throughout the year.  I especially don't want to forget the most unusual and PRECIOUS gift I've received to date: grapes.  In a Walmart sack. From sweet Carlos.  He was so proud and I knew this gift meant more to him than a bag of gold!  I hope you never forget the power of giving!

I could go on, and on and on, but those are a few of my favorites.

My sweet class of 2014, there are so many things that made you unique as a class.  But, in one way you are the same as all the classes I've had before and all of the classes I'll have in the future: you are unforgettable.  Even when I am old and wrinkly and have a head full of gray hairs, I will still be sharing stories from our class!  You each, along with the 200+ other first graders I've taught, have a special "forever" place in my heart.  I love you each very much and hope you never forget the life lessons we taught each other this year!

With love from your "forever" first grade teacher,