Leaving on a Jet Plane

23 02 2012

So, I cried in school yesterday [Wednesday]. But all for good reasons.

Today we had an elementary assembly, as we normally have every two weeks. But this time around, I had a little trick up my sleeve that not many people knew about! Little did I know, my students had a little something up their sleeve as well.

I went to the assembly knowing they were going to do something special to send off the student teachers since it was our last assembly before our last day at school on Friday. Terry, our principal, started the assembly off saying how they were going to switch things up a little bit today, since two of the student teachers had to leave for a field trip with their kindergarten classes. We started with kindergarten, and some of Amanda’s students got up and said why they would miss her. Katie’s students did the same. Then five of my students got up and each said one thing about me – that I was kind and a fun teacher, that I taught them hard things but helped them through it, and that they were going to miss me very much. It was the sweetest thing and I was on the verge of tears as they were speaking. Kaitlyn’s fifth graders wrote her a poem and said that.

After all the ‘presentations’ were done, the music teachers came out and the whole school sang “Leaving on a Jet Plane” which is the song that they sing for students that are leaving for the school. Then I started crying. I didn’t feel so alone since the other three elementary student teachers were also crying, but I just couldn’t stop. I have grown to love this school and love these kids so much and just the thought of leaving them is making me sad as I write this post. One of my boy students saw I was crying and I was originally sitting next to a first grade teacher; he asked her if he could switch places with her so he could sit next to me. It was the sweetest thing. After they finished singing, I tried to calm myself down since I had a surprise of my own!

Each assembly there are some performances by students in the school. This time around there was a group performance by another fourth grade class, a piano performance, and two guitar performances. Then Terry explained that the school gets to hear so many talented people, and asked, what would happen if those talented people kept playing for another 15 years? He announced a surprise guest entertainer .. me!

(Back story: last week when we were at happy hour, I was talking with Terry and his wife. I expressed my interest in being a vice principal at a high school in charge of a music and arts program, and they asked if I played instruments. I told them that I did, and then Terry asked if I would perform at the assembly, to which I agreed. I didn’t tell my cooperating teacher or anyone else besides the student teachers, so it was a surprise to the whole school!)

So then I got up and performed “La Valse d’Amelie” by Yann Tiersen, from the movie Amelie. The performance went well and everyone cheered after I was done! It was a great feeling; I’m not a performer, I’m an accompanist, so getting up in front of an audience by myself is actually pretty nerve wracking. My kids were SO surprised and had the biggest smiles on their faces when I got back to where we were sitting.

After my performance, the school said goodbye to four other students. They again sang “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and then I cried all over again. Having students leave the school is so commonplace here and I keep thinking back to my elementary school days when I had two friends move away and I was completely devastated. I can’t imagine how these students with the fleeting nature of the schoool and the students that come and go.

After the assembly we got ready to go back to the classroom, and my students immediately rushed up to me. They all knew that I played piano, but had no idea that I was performing, and they all seemed really impressed. I have one student who always talks about what she’s learning in piano class (she has lessons twice a week!) and she said I played so fast and she would have to practice so much to play like me. It was SO cute how excited they all were and I’m so glad I got to perform for them. Here’s a picture that a colleague snapped of me while performing:

We only have two more days in school before we have to say our goodbyes, and I already know I’m going to be very emotional on Friday in school. I’ve got lots of gifts and surprised planned for my students and my colleagues, and I’m excited to share that with them. But most of all I’ll be extremely sad to leave them; they’ve all truly made an impact on my life and on my teaching career. Until next time!




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