Dear Lakehoma Family,
I can remember the first day I walked into Lakehoma as a teacher like it was yesterday. My nerves had my stomach in knots and my heart started to pound the moment I unlocked my door and stared at my unoccupied classroom, envisioning it full of excited students, all relying on me to teach them. Yesterday, as I locked my classroom for the last time, my stomach was in knots just the same, but my heart pounded, then broke into pieces on the tile floor as I imagined someone else standing where I have for the last 9 years. I have endured (and also chosen) a lot of hard things over the years. This ranks right up there as one of the most difficult.
Today, as I reflected on all of my teammates who have stuck by my side, I was reminded of how very, very blessed I have been through these last 9 years. I have made some incredible friends, taught some amazing students, and made countless memories. I would have never believed in myself enough to take this next step were it not for some very, very extra-special coworkers.
To Paula: Thank you. You have been my mentor, friend, safe place, and reinforcement. I could not have survived some years without you. I owe so much to you, for without you, I would have been in the loony bin long ago. I have learned so many things from you, and I love you very much. You are, without a doubt, the most dedicated person I have ever known.
To Miranda: I love you My Friend. You have done hard things. You have listened. You have acted when no one else would. You have been there when lots of others were not. You are selfless and you have taught me a lot about being a better person. I will miss you every single day.
To Cindy & Liz: You two are a force. You make things happen, and you make it look easy. I admire and respect you both, and you have been a sounding board over the years for many, many things. You've talked me off of ledges, and pushed me off of others. I will miss you both so much. Thank you.
To Sheri: Your quiet grace and understanding are beautiful. You are calm and collected when most would not be, and you see so much good in the world. You were a raft on an ocean on the bad days, and I love that about you. You will be missed.
To Karis: I'm so glad you joined our team 2 years ago. You are so much fun and provided some much-needed comic relief. I loved being your partner this year and I'm certain that many more kids will be touched by your math wizardry as the years go by. Thanks for listening this year!!!
To Vicki: Even though you left 2 years ago, that hole was never filled. You were my partner-in-crime, my work mom, and my favorite. I still miss you, and I've often found myself wishing I could open that closet door to tell you some random something. Love you!
To Jenny: Thank you for helping me get my foot in the door, for directing me as I tried to navigate my first years, and for taking a step back when I needed to find my own way. You will always be loved, my "other mother."
To Shawna: It is rare to have a boss you love. You are an encourager, a friend, and a wonderful principal. The fact that your door is always open is rare, and your willingness to help is always appreciated. We grew up together, teacher and principal, and I'd like to think that even as we move apart in proximity, we will stay close as friends.
To Anita and Jill: You two are too much fun! You've known me forever, and you've loved me like your own. I could not have done my job each day without you both. You are equally loved.
It seems fitting to end there, with the first and last people I saw on a daily basis. I could go on and on, but I won't.
I've watched people wordlessly come and go over the years, and it always seemed too abrupt. You don't leave a place like Lakehoma unchanged. You all deserve the love and appreciation you've earned to be put out into the world, to be spoken and heard. And so it has been...