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

and

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?