I know I indicated that this next post would be about Ink Stains and our television debut, but I have to stop and just tell you something else first.
At a certain point, all the boxes are packed, all the desks are back in line, and the scavenger hunt of signatures to get cleared have been obtained. The latter being the process for being released into the summer. Turn in folders, place stickers here, textbook inventory, and turn in the keys. All with little initials and the guarantee of your paycheck.
For the first time in 360 school days I no longer have a classroom. I took down my decorated door. The classroom rules and consequences. All the binders that could not be salvaged went in a giant black trash bag. Crates stacked in the corner housed all the work students completed. My desk sat empty ready to accumulate summer’s dust. A few students came to visit. We stood in the room where all our words had their say.
At the end I remember first day of school’s electricity. Every student is ready, hungry from days a humid wandering for anything. We limp into the end of the year. All the disruptions. The dam of accountability is broken and students rush out of the school, carried about by the currents of corner stores, family trips and the prospect of sitting uninterrupted for a while.
Storm clouds have shadowed much of these days. My windshield collided with a rock and now bears a large crack. At another point in my life I might read these as indicators of mood or symbolism of some larger influence, but life is not a novel. And this ending carries none of the catharsis I anticipated only a strange longing for a pavilion many hands raised. The hours of listening and responding that got a few students inside, and the hope that those behind will carry the work coupled with the promise of visiting.
At the Freedom Project I’ll still be Mr. Stevens. Though, it will carry another meaning, like tomatoes off the vine, in a preserve jar, or in a sauce. Each carrying the same essence, but changed each time.
As I packed up my classroom these last few days, and sat in the silent school, I looked back at my white board where all my students signed their names. It started with one student drawing my name in big bubble letters, and then, one by one throughout the day, students came and added their names around mine. Perhaps not a symbol, but a nice ending.