London, Teaching

Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine, originally uploaded by kara melissa.

Thursday was our final day with the kids at school this week and Friday was our final day with the staff. We prepared the school for their summer term, saying goodbye to most of the teachers as the majority are not returning next year — including myself.

The year 6 class (grade 5 for you Americans) presented The Teacher Oscar Awards at our final assembly on Thursday afternoon. Ms. B had already mentioned to me that I had been noted by one of her children in class to have the ‘prettiest smile’ at school, but she would not divulge the information regarding what my award would be. Not to toot my own horn at all, because the reason I share this story is both a meaningful and touching one.

The boy who noted my smile to her is one of the children in the school with autism. I say hello to him every day and address him by name and he rarely, if ever, says hello back. So I just smile and tell him to have a good day, getting on with mine. Now, I never thought he knew who I was or noticed my hellos and attempt at friendliness, but it turns out he does. When my name came up in class while they were deciding who would get what award, he mentioned my smile. Now that makes me feel pretty darn good.

While awards were being announced for such qualities as ‘the one with the most stylish haircut’ or ‘most likely to star in the movie Women in Black III’ and ‘wears the grooviest shoes,’ I waited patiently for mine. “This teacher always has a smile on her face. The Little Miss Sunshine Award goes to…Ms. Kara!!!” I stood up, flashed my now famous smile, and swallowed back the tears to accept my award graciously. Those of you who know me, know that I am very sentimental and emotional, and since I was so touched, it was difficult not to shed a tear. Especially when one of my favourite Year 1 students (shhh…we don’t really have favourites…) was practically bursting into tears every day this week when the last day of school was mentioned. Red, watery eyes, holding back the tears. And just six years old. He was going to miss me and his other teacher, also leaving the school.

Many of you are aware that it’s been a rough and challenging school year at this school. I started out as a team teacher for not one, but two classes: Year 1 and Year 2 (Kindergarten and First Grade). Once this job was not required, instead of being made redundant, I took the place of the EAL (English as an Additional Language) teacher, but only four days a week. My job morphed over the course of the year into literacy and English support teacher, PYP curriculum planning and coordinating, and even some deputy head tasks. On Fridays, I used my free day from work to volunteer at the Free Tibet Campaign (FTC). And now, it’s all finished.

This Thursday I had my leaving party thrown by the boys at FTC and then attended the final staff party for school on Friday. I’m now done with my challenging and interesting school year that was supplemented successfully with my V-Day project. I’ve taken a job at another, more prestigious international school in a very nice area of London, where I will be back in the classroom full time teaching Grade 2.

I’m now officially on holiday for the summer and sipping on Lemon Eccineaca Herbal Tea because with all the socialising and London rain, I seem to be coming down with a cold. But, through it all, I have and will remain smiling. Because it’s the people in my life that make everything fit into place, and that includes the amazing students who touched my life this year, as well as my friend who just spent the weekend with us in London whom I haven’t seen him in nearly three years.