Dear Elementary School,
It has been an amazing ten years. I’m already crying writing this. How can I ever thank you enough? I can’t believe how fast it has gone. I sent all three of my babies to you wondering how they would be without me all day. I entrusted the fabulous teachers with my kids and wow did they soar!
My son cried his way through preschool, so you can imagine how it was for me to send him to Kindergarten. He started with Mrs. Cinelli in Kindergarten, and he didn’t look back. The crying stopped and he went to school every day excited to go. He was maturing and my friends who know me now are going to be surprised to read that he rode the bus every day to and from school with all the wonderful neighborhood kids on our street. Now I drive all my kids to and from school and it keeps me very busy. I’m happy to be their mommy taxi service. Before I blink my son will be driving himself, so for now I will enjoy driving him around.
Our first year in Elementary school went well. My hat goes off to Mrs. Cinelli for making Max enjoy school. My sweet baby Lillie was born, and my family outgrew our small ranch. I didn’t reach my goal of moving before kindergarten, but we moved right after Max started first grade. He was transferred into Mrs. Wagner’s class at the new elementary school, and the beautiful, sweet, smart, Mrs. Wagner helped Max and I adjust to a new school. He was a bit overwhelmed by the bigger class size, but he made a good adjustment with the help of his fabulous teacher.
My friend Angela introduced me to the PTA President, my now dear friend Laura, and it was all downhill from there!! I love you, Laura! I was eager to get involved in this fabulous new school that I was loving. I ended up becoming a room mom and chairing staff appreciation. With my friends Laura and Eliza in charge of the PTA, you know that I was recruited quickly. I started out as treasurer for two years, moved into VP for a couple years, and then finished up with President of the PTA for two years. I also volunteered for everything and anything I could. I was in the lunchroom, hanging artwork, kids day captain, fun run committee, merry moose store chair, picture day chair, Prime Time Reading chair, Fourth grade party chair and I volunteered for every single event at elementary school. I was home with my children, and I was finding that I loved to volunteer.
Why did I love to volunteer? What can you get out of volunteering at school?
I got to know all the teachers and administration very well. I was in school all the time, and saw my children, and got to know a lot of the students. I knew most of the staff that worked there and felt a close link with the school. I felt a real part of the community. I felt capable, and helpful, and useful in a way that wasn’t at home taking care of my kids. I met some of my best friends and connected with so many women. As a social worker at heart, I was giving back, and volunteering made my heart happy. There are so many wins to volunteering. I needed it. I can’t encourage you enough to get involved. Don’t just thank the volunteers, go get your hands dirty with them.
I want to thank the PTA for giving me so much. I got to practice old skills, learn new skills, and meet so many new people. If you are feeling isolated, the PTA is a great way to make connections and feel like you are doing something good in your children’s schools. My PTA journey isn’t over as now I am President over at the middle school. Life keeps moving me forward. If you ever find that someone has PTA on their resume, don’t take that lightly. It takes a lot of skills to have a successful PTA. I supervised an office of therapists and managing the PTA as President can be just as challenging, if not more challenging sometimes.
Being able to volunteer also takes a village at home. My husband has volunteered for countless hours with me, without signing up. He has been home with the kids many times while I do volunteer work. My parents helped me a ton when the kids were younger. It is quite the adjustment that they can stay home alone now. Now if I leave the house at 5 and Seth comes home at 6, I don’t have to get coverage. I have this old 15 and 13 year old who have gotten so old and capable. Anything we do in life takes a village. We can’t volunteer alone, and we can’t parent alone. A huge thank you to my husband for allowing me to volunteer and for being by my side through it all. He is all signed up to help on a lot of fun PTA days coming up! I have about four more fun elementary school events with Lillie before it all ends. I am going to soak it up and enjoy this last month of school with her.
What can I say about all the wonderful elementary school teachers that my children had? The fabulous Mrs. Violanti had both my girls for kindergarten. The fantastic Mrs. Wagner had all three of my children for first grade. The wonderful Mr. VanCise had all three of my children for second grade. The awesome Mrs. Senall had all three of my children for third grade. She looks like my third grade teacher Mrs. Winnick so that is really special to me. The amazing Mrs. Dauksha had Max and Ella for fourth grade. The magnificent Mrs. McCarthy has Lillie for fourth grade. We are ending elementary school on such a good note. Lillie is having such a good year and her teacher is such a good fit for her. This was a crew of six fabulous human beings who hold a special place in my heart forever.
I really don’t know how to express my gratitude to all these teachers who had my children in their classrooms every day for so many days. They treated my children like their own children, and I saw the love and care pour out of them. My family will never forget them. I’m forever grateful.
My children asked me at dinner how it felt to be leaving elementary school. I would say a lot of emotions. The first emotion I told them is happiness. I feel happy and I feel proud of our family. It feels as though we are all graduating to a new level. I feel like I’m leveling up as a mother. Having Max start high school this year has been pretty amazing. There are so many fabulous things ahead for my children. I find it’s fun and exciting to look ahead and it can make me really sad to look behind me.
I also feel sadness of course. When you’ve been at a school for so long it becomes part of your family. We are saying goodbye to so many wonderful people. The librarian has made me cry a few times this year. He’s been with my family a very long time. Their gym teacher has a special place in my heart for starting Super Ella. The librarian has a special place in my heart for so many things, including bringing books to life for the children. I’m going to miss the principal asking Lillie and I what kind of trouble we were going to get into today. The original principal has left and moved on to being a superintendent but my whole family was close to him. He knew Max and Ella well, and he guided me through some hard things. I was so close with the administrative professionals in the building, and with the fantastic nurse who decided to move to Florida.
People move on. Life moves forward. We may try to hang on, but resisting it only makes it more painful. I choose to be happy and excited. I’m working on getting Lillie excited for middle school. I was ready to send Max to middle school and to high school. I knew Ella would be fine. She is so smart and capable. Sending my youngest to middle school is probably the hardest.
How will I help Lillie adjust to middle school (and me too)?
- They tend to take their lead from us, and I choose to be excited for her and that gets her excited.
- I tell her about all the good things to look forward to in middle school like all the clubs she can join and all the new friends she will make.
- I reassure her about which friends are going with her to middle school.
- I talk to her about the fifth grade teachers – fortunately I know a lot of them and they are an amazing bunch!
- I reassure Lillie that Ella her older sister and I will give her a tour and make sure she knows where she is going.
- I reassure her that the teachers will be understanding and helpful.
- We will buy locker supplies together and I’ll have her practice opening her combination lock.
- I will help her feel ready and able to be successful.
- I will also reassure her that it’s okay to stumble and need help at the beginning of anything new.
I’m filled with so many emotions. I’m really sad to say goodbye and yet I’m excited for what’s ahead. I really do feel like I’m leveling up. My family got through ten years of elementary school together and that is quite the accomplishment. I am proud of us, and I am thankful for these last ten amazing years.
If you are leveling up with me, I want to invite you to be excited with me. I want to tell you to give yourself a pat on the back and say, “Good job me.” I also want to tell you to let yourself feel all the feels. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be sad. Then I want you to look to what you have in store for you, and I want you to get you and your children excited for the next adventures. We are in it together.
Thank you, elementary school. The Greene family loves you dearly and will always remember you.
Laughing, Loving, Learning,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R
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