Tomorrow will be my fourth first day of school as a teacher at Las Palmas. Tomorrow begins my fourth year of my dream job. This morning I was up on my roof redoing my laundry (it rained yesterday and the only downside of rain is that it undoes all the clothes washing you did if indeed your clothes are still hanging on the line, which mine were) and while the clothes were spinning I walked over to look across the street at Las Palmas. There are many perks to living directly across the street from your workplace and this is one of them: I could look at the school while praying over the school and that is just powerful.
Tomorrow a lot of people are going to meet for the first time. New students will be meeting old students, teachers will be meeting whole classrooms full of little people they’d only passed in the hall. Teachers will be meeting parents, so many parents, and parents will be meeting teachers. A lot of people are about to meet tomorrow that will in a very short amount of time become very important to each other.
I’m currently sitting at my desk/dining room table (as in it was built as a dining room table but is not used mostly for desky purposes) and in front of me there is a little bulletin board. On that bulletin board I have a few things. In the top left corner there hangs a cut out of Ron Weasley circa Year 7. For obvious reasons.
In case the reasons for displaying a Year 7 Ron Weasley aren’t obvious, I’ll explain. Harry, Ron, and Hermione spend most of Year 7 looking for horcruxes. It’s not fun work. It’s cold and there’s a lot of sleeping in tents and Voldemort shows up and it’s just rough going. So at one point Ron gives up. He quits. He abandons his friends and he leaves. And almost immediately he wants to come back. But he can’t. Because Harry and Hermione were under protection spells because of security. But also because our choices have consequences. In order to undo what he had done, Ron had to travel a rough road on his own. He finds his way back to Harry and Hermione through magic (which we can call love and grace) and of course they forgive him. But Hermione’s still mad because our actions have consequences. So Year 7 Ron, all dripping wet (from jumping in the frozen pond to save Harry) and holding the necklace horcrux reminds me that my actions have consequences, but it’s never too late to do the right thing, even if the road to the right thing is rough.
Also on the bulletin board is a giant gliterry letter S because my name is Suzanne and I like glitter. There’s a card someone gave me that had a pretty flower on the front. Underneath the flower I wrote, “You have everything you need to do what He’s asked of you,” as a reminder to stop making excuses and get to work. Next to that card is another card with flowers on it on which I wrote, “Get over yourself.” Under that is yet another card that has a glittery blue peace sign on it. Under that and to the left is a purple bookmark that says, “Cristo me ama,” which is true, and between that bookmark and Ron Weasley is a card I got from a student at the end of last year. It says, “Thank you for teaching me with love. I love you.”
The little girl who gave me that card and I live in the same apartment building. Sometimes when I’m taking Fred out for his evening pee she’ll come over and sing a song or tell a story or walk Fred around for bit. She has become very important to me. I love how she can just talk and talk and talk and I love how she explains things well when I don’t understand a Spanish word she’s used. I love how proud she is to be half Russian and how she shared her Russian nesting doll with our class. A year ago today she came into my first grade classroom for the first time.
Most of the students that will come into my classroom tomorrow for the first time I have already met. I had already met the one who gave me that precious card because I taught preschool English for two years before moving up to first grade. So many of my students this year I taught when they were three and four (which was just precious). But teaching them for thirty minutes a day and teaching them for three hours a day is a big difference.
I’m praying this morning and this week and this year that each student will become precious to me this year in the same way they are precious to God. I’m praying that I won’t forgot that though they be but little, they are mighty, that I won’t forget that even little ones have souls and hearts and longings and questions and a place in the Kingdom. I’m praying that joy and love and mercy will win more than impatience and frustration and heat-misery. I’m praying that the students will love each other and love God in big and beautiful ways this year and that I won’t miss any of it because I’m too focused on paperwork.
Yesterday I was tutoring a high school senior for his ACT (which would be awful if he weren’t such a cool kid) and I asked what he thought about my finished classroom. He said it looked nice and I said I was so excited for the kids to see it! He said, “You really love teaching, don’t you?” I said, “Of course I love teaching! If I didn’t love it, I would be doing something else.”
I’ve wanted to be a teacher of Spanish speaking children for as long as I’ve wanted to do anything. Most days I remember how insanely fortunate I am to be doing just that. Most days I stand in awe of a God who loves me so much He gave me this job, this home, and these students. This year I want to start the day in that mode – gratitude and awe. Oh, how He loves us so. Because seriously? This is my life. Full of important, precious, funny, frustrating, on-the-road-to-bilingual, beloved children who despite my impatience and frustration and heat-misery love me too.
Here’s to another awesome year with people who will very soon become very important to us. We are Las Palmas.