Recently I attended a gathering for a pastor who has served his congregation for 28 years. The hosts showed pictures and videos from his time showing his work and how much the people appreciated him. I've been in my district 24 years, but I've decided I don't need a slideshow.
You see I have the real thing. Every week this year, I have run into my former students out in the real world in their jobs and lives. They are glad to see me...glad to tell me what they are doing. I know that I have made a difference in my community. They are still my kids.
I have really needed this constant reminder this year. I worked with the most challenging student I have ever met. Her life has been so difficult, I don't blame her defensive posture. Due to changes in her foster family and her educational placement, she did not finish the year with me.
Fortunately, I knew before she did that she would need to move. It gave me the chance to prepare her instead of just being one more adult that gave up on her.
I had told her about seeing former students all year long and telling her that I still think of them as my kids. On her last day with us she told me that she might move schools.
"That's okay," I told her. "Remember that no matter what you are still my kid." I refused to say good-bye.