Today is the last day of school. I made it! Two days ago one of my fellow teachers asked me how I felt at the end of this year. She asked if I felt like I was just surviving to the end or if I felt like I had done an outstanding job. That is a difficult question to answer. There have certainly been days where I felt like I was just surviving. There have been other days when I felt like I was doing an excellent job. In my first year of teaching in Panama I have learned a lot. Overall, I think the experience has shown me that teaching is a good fit for me.
A couple of weeks ago I went on a youth retreat with some students from my church and some students from my school. During the retreat all of the students and adult leaders were broken into six teams. The teams rotated through different stations. At each station the teams had to complete some sort of group challenge. During the second station I went to go fill up some water bottles for my team because it was hot and everyone was sweating and thirsty. As I was filling up the bottles with water, I felt like God was speaking to me. I felt like he was saying, “This is what I have called you to do. I have called you to bring cups of cold refreshing water to young people. I have called you to help create environments where young people can grow and flourish”. It made me feel like I was in the right place; doing what I am supposed to be doing. There have been times when I have felt this same sort of affirmation for my work as a teacher.
I know that young people, especially middle schoolers, are in constant need of affirmation. It is often an age when young people are awkward and extremely self conscious. It is also a very important age in terms of when a person begins to form his/her own identity. In the Middle School years, young people begin to set the direction for the rest of their lives. I hope that I can be a consistent role model for students going through this difficult season of life. I pray I can help affirm students and help them know how much they are valued and loved.
Teaching has been much harder than I thought it would be. I always remember hearing how hard your first year as a teacher is. That is certainly the case. I am so thankful to have some time off for the next several weeks. I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family and relaxing. If you are reading this and if you have been following my journey throughout this year, thank you very much. I appreciate your prayers and your support.