The Beginning of Change: Danielle Peirson
The end of the year is an exciting time when testing ends and reflection begins. I reflect back to where we started and forward to where we will inevitably end. I find myself asking, are my students ready to leave me? Am I ready for them to leave my classroom?
Fourth grade is a special year—it’s the students’ last year at our elementary school, Memorial Hall. Some of the students have lived here since kindergarten, wandered the hallways, and walked to school on the same route.
Now, their home will be changing. The school will be different and their houseparents will change, but the love will still be there. It just looks different.
For me, this time of year is full of mixed emotions. I remember this class as third graders entering my room for the first time full of nervousness, joy and excitement. I remember their first big breakthrough when they finally understood why I asked them to write that painstaking rough draft, and the first piece of work they were proud of. I remember the type of pride that cracks a smile on their faces that will not go away. It’s as if they will burst until they show their accomplishments to every important person in their life.
Nevertheless, I also remember the struggles—the days they could not handle another assignment, and the days they questioned whether they could endure all that life was throwing their way. In those moments, they show themselves their inner courage. These are some of my most cherished memories. These lessons far exceed the importance of any subject I teach them. These moments shape who they are as people and who they will become.
When a child draws strength from within themselves, that is truly special and I am lucky enough to witness it.
Teaching is an affair of the heart. Yes, my students are ready to leave me, but I’ll never be ready for them to leave. I am always comforted knowing that the lessons they learned with me will help them become better students and even better people.
Change is hard, but change is something Milts do so well. They are resilient. They remind me every year about the power of transformation. When I see my former students so successful, so courageous and so resilient, I know I have succeeded. Together, WE have succeeded.
Danielle Peirson is a fourth-grade teacher at Milton Hershey School.
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