Last Thursday was my final day at Holy Family School. It was a very emotional experience for me, Chrissy, and all 27 kiddos in class.
For the last few days I have spent preparing the students to say good-bye to me. It wasn't easy. Several of the students said "Miss Bielinski, I am going to cry my heart out!" Another student actually had a mental breakdown several nights during my last week.
On my last day the kids had a little celebration. Each student came up and said something nice to me. They kept on telling me about this teacher they had that was extremely fair, funny, kind and gentle. (I'm really not sure who they are referring to since those qualities are not mine.) The majority of the kids were trying to hold their emotional composure together. However, when one started to burst into tears, that was the end of keeping it together. I was quite surprised this particular child would, she was a great kid and all, but I didn't think she would have been the first. There were more sensitive children in the classroom that have cried on a frequent basis. Once she cried, another student just screamed out in horror. It was if somebody died. Sure enough on my last day the vast majority of the 27 cried their eyes
out. It was quite difficult for me to keep it all together--I didn't
want to cry in front of my kids. I just don't like crying in front of
people. Nothing against the kids.
I gave all 25 out of the 27 a hug. One boy did not want me to hug him (he liked handshakes over the hugging.) The other boy was quite negative and I was ticked off. He was the last student to talk. He got up and told me that I was boring and not interesting. Everybody looked at him with a WHAT face. He then quickly said he was "just kidding!" I laughed along, but the rest of the class looked horrified. One girl said "that was seriously NOT cool." Some hid their faces behind their cake. Chrissy looked quite unsure of what was going on...my face must have had the same reaction, because I sure didn't know what to say!
So you can imagine what happened to the crying when this happened... it got more intense! Kids were death grabbing me and screaming in horror. Chrissy and I were literally peeling kids off of my body.
Finally, we had to line up to go outside for the Peannce Service...that's right... Confession Service on my last day! I was proud of the kids: they were able to hold back their tears during the hour long service. The service was lead by Father Paul, aka my first boss ever. I kept giving him glances because I knew we needed some piano music. Finally, after the blessing of a few teachers, I just walked up to him (while he was in the confessional booth) and gave him the Michele Becker look. (For those of you have not seen this look, it is the look of "I'm going to do this because I am in charge look." I sure didn't have her clought, but I knew FRP enough to get away with it.) Sure enough Father Paul said "yes Emily go play some reflective music." Then for the next 40 minutes I played lots of liturgically appropriate music for the kids. At the end of the service, Father Paul recognized me for my skills and the entire assembly clapped. After mass he said I mastered "the look" that my superior has given throughout the years. We chatted a little bit about the state of Resurrection, wished me luck and I returned to being a teacher.
Then came the parent-teacher conferences!
I was pretty impressed with the respect the parents had for me. I was an equal, this made sense since I DID full time teach for a lot of the trimester. There was only one parent who did not regard me of any importance, but this was the same person that said I destroyed her son's grades as well as created a negative energy in the classroom because of my presence. At that moment I thanked all the nasty people at Resurrection/Old Saint Joe's who have taken pleasure in telling me, Michele, Sharon or anybody else of my funeral dirgness, disgusting organ, displeasing voice, horrific outfits, the one time I chewed gum for 10 minutes, poor tempo choice, or etc. I've been getting nasty comments since 2002...I was able to handle one more. That's because out of those nasty comments...I have gotten many many more positive true ones! I am also confidant in what I do, regardless of how well it turns out.
In reality, my last day was pretty awesome. Here is a list of things I learned from teaching at a Catholic School:
-Technology is limited, but that's okay because that means you won't have to be forced to use it ALL OF THE TIME!!!
-You can belt out a church song and somebody will know it.
-Catholic School teachers do NOT carry rulers and strike you with them.
-It's not all about Catholic Theology 24/7
-Uniform Codes actually help kids keep their clothes on.
-There are other musically inclined churches than Resurrection (were still the best at that;))
-The stereotype is off.
-Everybody really does know Bishop Bob as Bishop Moreanu
-Constant Catholic references are accepted without prejudice.
-Catholic School Teachers enjoy wine as much as public school teachers.