Some of my old high school classmates retired from teaching this year and though I envy them, each fall I think ‘oh heck, I can make it one more year.’
My students keep me going.
Last spring a sixth grade student, who loves PE, raced from the primary building to the gym door. She blurted out with enthusiasm. “You look just like my granny!”
Taken aback, for I never considered myself the age of a grandma, I asked incredulously.
“Really! How old is your granny?”
“She is 70. And just like you. Tall and fit. And she still plays basketball every week.”
I burst out laughing. Go, granny go.
Should I be insulted that she sees me old enough to be a granny or proud to know she considers me fit enough to still play my favorite ball game?
A graduating senior told me she remembered having me in first grade. Ah yes, in my early days at our school I had to teach every grade between first and twelfth grade.
Until moving to Switzerland, I have never stayed in one place, but now I have been at my school long enough to be one of the elders. Students that I once had in class are returning to campus to teach!
Aging seems to be a popular theme with all my students. A favorite 10th grader gave me a homemade gift. On a Scandinavian Airline travel bag designed to carry official papers hanging on a strap around my neck he printed, “Old Timer coming through”.
“ It’s to help you keep from losing your dark glasses so much,” he told me.
But one of the most endearing compliments was a card made by my 6th grade PE class last June.
Dear Mrs. Mackenzie
You have been the best PE teacher we ever had. Whenever someone didn’t have a kit (PE uniform) instead of yelling at them, you would give them a job. You have helped everyone in our class improve stuff they couldn’t do. Everyone wants to have you as a PE teacher in secondary. We are so attached to you that if you retire or go somewhere we would follow you. We did not expect to learn so much. But we actually learned something. We all learned millions of games.
When I ask what my colleagues miss most after retirement, their answer is unanimous, “The kids. And the buzz.”
Our school halls are definitely buzzing with the energy of bright minds from around the globe, eager to tackle the future challenges facing Planet Earth.
So every year, though my body creaks a little louder, my joints lock up a bit tighter and a part of me longs to retire from the relentless demands of teaching, the kids keep me young at heart and fill my days with joy and laughter. Yup, teaching is one big ball game.