on May 20, 2011 in School dayz with 17 comments by

These are my kids. [We didn’t always dress like this- it was 50s day.]

I’ve written about this before, but today, if ever, it deserves to be written about again.

I used to teach elementary school. Did you know that about me? In my pre-author life, I was actually in charge of molding and educating future citizens of America.

[I know. Weird.]

My whole life I wanted to be a teacher. Even as a kid myself, I made up tests and quizzes for my sisters. I attended the University of Georgia, studied early childhood education, then I jumped in… to a 5th grade classroom.

I remember the first day I was allowed into my class- it was still summer, but I was itching to get started. Nothing on the walls, all the desks shoved to the middle of the room, and I just sat on the teacher’s desk and wondered how in the WORLD I was actually going to do this.

And a few weeks later, 28 kids came into my life… and have never left.

There’s just something about that first class. [Any other teachers out there? Am I right about that first crew?]

I worked really hard every day, but I’m pretty sure they taught me as much as I taught them, if not more.

That first year,

I learned how to laugh through stress

I learned how to love more deeply than I’d ever known

I learned that a joke a day keeps the frowny faces at bay

I learned that when you love a kid, the parent loves you back

I learned the beauty of boundaries and how kids really flourish when there are some rules

I learned how to mourn with kids who lose parents

I learned that saying I Love You at the end of a hard day is more important that saying it at the end of a normal day [I also learned that meaning it on a hard day is way more challenging than meaning on a normal day]

I learned that I have the same sense of humor as most 10 year olds

I learned how to discipline with a happy heart

I learned that small towns make for sweet communities


I learned that love changes people.

I’m telling y’all. I’m sitting here boo-hooing just writing about these kids. I could tell you story after story of that first year. I was NOT a perfect teacher and those kids were NOT perfect every day. But they were mine. God picked them for me. I know He did.

Tonight, those hand-picked wonders graduate from high school.

And I’ll be there, taking too many pictures and hugging necks and maybe crying. [There will be no photo proof of that, so you’ll never know.]

There is no where else I’d rather be.

Congrats, my friends. I was proud of you when you graduated the 5th grade. I’m proud of you today.

Much love.

. . . . . . . . . .

Anybody else attending graduation ceremonies this weekend?


  1. posted on May 20, 2011 at 5:24 AM  |  reply

    Such a sweet post, Annie. I’m sure you’re one of those teachers a student never forgets. I ran into the daughter of my 5th grade history teacher last week. I had to rave about how much I loved having her mother as a teacher. I’m sure those kids remember you the same way.

    My daughter earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing two weeks ago – Yay! No more graduations this year.

  2. posted on May 20, 2011 at 6:24 AM  |  reply

    Mawww! I absolutely loved my first class & thought I could never love another group of kids that much, but for me it was the class I had in my second year that stole my heart! Those little kindy’s are now in Year 6 & I love catching up with them as we cross paths in the playground and reminisce about the days of invisible pet rabbits and the time we made a movie (oh you need to watch this, it is the cutest…in my completely biased opinion)
    Hmm enough about me…
    What I really wanted to say was that I think it’s so cool that you are still a part of your kids’ lives even though you don’t teach these days. I can imagine how proud of them you must be & I bet you have had a lasting impact on their lives!

  3. Erin
    posted on May 20, 2011 at 6:38 AM  |  reply

    Ahhh what an awesome feeling! I still want to hug all my kids from last year (my first year) when I see them in the hall.

  4. Merideth
    posted on May 20, 2011 at 7:45 AM  |  reply

    What a blessing you must have been to them, and they obviously are to you. Makes me wish I had a job as a teacher. I love the idea of being able to invest in kids lives like that. Enjoy the graduation tonight!

  5. Alexandra
    posted on May 20, 2011 at 8:59 AM  |  reply

    I’m heading off to my son’s 5th grade graduation in about an hour… and I was a elementary school teacher for about 3 years and really enjoyed it – your right, there’s something about your first class that just sticks with you.

  6. posted on May 20, 2011 at 9:02 AM  |  reply

    so i finally got with the program and learned how to use my blog reader, so now i can keep up with ya’ll…LOVING IT!!

    anyway…how exciting that you can be there for this special event, i dare say not many get this opportunity or care enough to take advantage of it!!

    so happy for you!! have fun!!


  7. posted on May 20, 2011 at 11:06 AM  |  reply

    Annie, it is really really really awesome that you are going for their graduation. what a special thing for you and for them. you were a part of that, their making it to the end! 🙂

    next week my sister graduates from high school. i can’t believe it at all.

  8. posted on May 20, 2011 at 11:35 AM  |  reply

    I am crying reading about you crying. Good grief.
    Those first year kids are something special- 7 years in and their picture is the one on my wall still. I love them in a special way. They mean the world to me.

    Mine are freshmen in college this year. One is having a baby. It’s crazy how much they grow up. And how I just can’t even help how much I love them.

    Hope graduation is great- can’t wait to see pictures 🙂

  9. posted on May 20, 2011 at 2:38 PM  |  reply

    “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell, where his influence stops.”
    — Henry Brooks Adams(American writer, 1838-1918)


  10. Tay
    posted on May 20, 2011 at 5:31 PM  |  reply

    ConGRADulations to your kiddos {sorry, I couldn’t resist!}. How special that you get to attend their high school graduation!

    Oh, by the way, I got something very special in the mail the other day…my very own copy of From Head to Foot! I CANNOT WAIT to start reading it, highlighter in hand, and soak in your writing!

  11. posted on May 21, 2011 at 8:31 PM  |  reply

    I am a 2nd year teacher and my first group graduated from 8th grade last night. I wasn’t able to attend, and when I told some of them, they were really disappointed which made me want to cry. I won’t ever forget my first group. They are really special to me! I totally understand your thinking.

    How did you end up where you are at now? How long did you teach?


  12. posted on May 23, 2011 at 10:47 AM  |  reply

    I believe I knew you as a teacher… I’m attending the graduation, or “promotion” rather, of my daughter from 8th grade. CanNOT believe she’ll be a high schooler soon!

    What an awesome feeling to watch your 5th graders become adults. Too cool.

  13. posted on May 24, 2011 at 12:11 PM  |  reply

    I’m officially graduated as of today 🙂 I can tell you from experience, that when God blesses us with people in our lives that care as much as the way you care for those kids, it saves lives in so many different ways.

  14. posted on May 27, 2011 at 8:11 AM  |  reply

    I clicked over from in(courage) today to just check out your personal blog after enjoying your Zumba post. This post though was so encouraging to me. I will finish my 1st year of teaching (4th-6th SpEd) next Friday, and I have learned so many of this same lessons myself this year. And just honestly, I don’t have much else to say because I am in tears. Thank you for sharing that piece of your life.

  15. Tricia
    posted on May 28, 2011 at 10:04 PM  |  reply

    Hey lady! Steven is a graduate. We have family over and I just read this to them. (Barely managed to NOT cry!) My nephew asked if that was from an author. I said yes, but also Steven’s 5th grade teacher. They now love you too! 🙂

  16. posted on Jun 01, 2011 at 9:30 PM  |  reply

    i hope you realize that, as lucky as you feel to have those kids, they are SO blessed to have had you. because they still have you and that is so rare and lovely a gift.

  17. posted on Jun 02, 2011 at 11:07 AM  |  reply

    Hey, is that you, third from the right, fourth row? 😉

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