End of the School Year | Mark’s Remarks - Republic-Times | News

End of the School Year | Mark’s Remarks

By on June 6, 2018 at 9:00 am

How many of these have I written in the past 10 years of penning this column? I hope not too many. You’ll have to excuse me. This is my 28th year of teaching.  It’s coming to a close. I can’t believe it.

My administrators are kind, well-meaning people. They do nice things for a group of people who are often a tough crowd. We are blessed to have them.

One of the neat things they did for us a few weeks back was to design a “jersey” of sorts with our name on them. All of the paper jerseys hung in the hallway, to show we were all a teaching team.

Now, as far as the team goes, I’m usually a bench warmer. I glanced at the jerseys and thought they were fun and thought “What a nice idea.”

That evening, one of my colleagues who has been around almost as long as I have called to tell me the number on the jersey was the amount of years we had taught. Guess whose number was the largest?

How did this happen?

You know, I can honestly say that I picture myself way younger (and definitely skinnier) than I really am. And I now get what I couldn’t understand years ago: I understand not wanting to see a picture of yourself. It’s not that I think I am particularly hideous or anything. I just don’t look like that person in my mind. Get it?

I got a teacher appreciation letter a few weeks ago, too.  Along the same line of the “over the hill” theme, a student wrote, “I know you’ve been a teacher a long, long time.  But you still act as though teaching is fun for you.”

What a nice compliment. However, the “long, long time” was a bit unnecessary. Could there be a kinder, gentler approach? I appreciated the sentiment and understand it was made with good intentions.

I do love to talk to teachers of all ages about the end of the year, because it doesn’t matter what age you are or how long you’ve been at it; we pretty much all feel the same way.

Is this kid ready to move on?  Have I done my best? Should I be ashamed that I’m glad this kid is moving on? Am I glad I don’t have to deal with THAT parent again. Boy will I miss that one. Oh my, should I warn the teachers next year? On and on it goes. An emotional rollercoaster would be an understatement.

One year, I had a quiet little student who struggled with all types of issues. To say this student had a learning block would be appropriate. We worked and worked with him, celebrating successes and working on trouble areas. We saw progress. This student, however, never quite came out of his shell and was one of those kids who never had many words to say.  Communication was tough.

On the last day of school, a few students were lingering. I would miss many of them, but at that point, I was so ready to say goodbye and wish them well. I couldn’t wait for a bit of peace. For some reason, some of them stood around and didn’t seem to be in any hurry to leave. I sighed.

Just as I was having that selfish feeling, the non-communicative kiddo rushed up to me, said nothing, and with a little tear in his eye hugged me tight.  And then he left. It was an incredible moment. I’ll never forget it.

So, with all the emotions we experience these last few days of school, I am in hopes that all teachers remember how important they are to kids, and how important the kids are.

Even those that wear us out.

Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.