It seems appropriate–if premature–to write as we conclude the spring 2015 semester. With two days of classes left, this is both one of my favorite and saddest points of each semester. But that’s good: it’s my favorite because I can see the growth of students throughout the semester, almost magical in its astonishing development. It’s the saddest for the same reason. Students who have worked hard, proven themselves through the adversities of everyday life, and demonstrated exceptional resiliency are now moving on, and it’s unlikely I’ll have the privilege of working with them again.
I do have the satisfaction of knowing that I have contributed to that growth, that through my efforts, students have discovered their own strengths and abilities, and that I have made the world a slightly better place because of my investment in students’ learning. That’s no small matter; in fact, that is entirely IT. My paycheck each month is merely the remuneration for signing up with Helena College, but my pay, my intrinsic reward, is the gratitude and goodwill I receive in exchange for my heartfelt desire to help and see students succeed.
This semester, I have watched as many students have taken charge of their own educations, marched ahead with resiliency, and damned the torpedoes. I have watched, also, as some students have relegated their futures to the same fate as their pasts by giving up and giving in. I lose sleep over those students’ futures because I know they are now in a worse place than the day they began, in a worse place than the day they started in January because they now have debt tied to a failed semester. I always warn them, and I cannot understand why they do not hear my cautions.
I have learned, though, that wasting time on losses–anyone’s–is indeed a waste, so I choose to celebrate the wins vigorously. I love commencement ceremonies, and usually cry, and cheer silently to myself as I read and assess final papers, knowing that I send students on with competence and confidence, much like a parent sends his or her child off to college. Similar to my experience as a mother sending my son off to college, I really hate the empty nest, but I really love seeing fledglings fly.