November 21 – Thanks to our son, David, I will have many good memories of a recent program to honor former staff members and volunteers last week as the education staff went all out to recognize those who had been active in school affairs before they retired.
I suppose you might wonder why in the world David was involved? When I told him about the upcoming celebration about two weeks before the date, I let him know that I would not be going to Kingsville to be honored for a number of years of service as a volunteer. His first question, of course, was, “Mom, why aren’t you going? You know it would be a lot of fun to see all of those kids you worked with for about 14 years, if I remember rightly, and it would be fun to catch up on what the retired teachers are doing, too!”
My answer was just about what he expected. “David, you know I really don’t like to be thanked in such a public way. So many of the teachers told me through the years how much they had appreciated what I did for the kids, and that was plenty thanks.’” Their saying things like, “Mrs. Fairchild, you really helped me out today. It’s pretty hard to help somebody who is behind in his work because of sickness, etc. when I have a roomful of students who need me to explain the new work. I’m always glad for your help.” was all I really needed.Some of the best years of my teaching were at Kingsville, and I’ll never forget the many friends I made there! But I didn’t want to go up in front of everybody: staff and students, from the lower grades right on up to seniors in high school. I finally convinced Dale that it would be OK to skip the program. But David would not give up! His thoughts mostly centered on the kids and how glad they would be to see me and how I would probably hug each one as I saw them all through the halls. (It is really fun and so satisfying to give and receive those tokens of friendship.)
With the program several weeks in the future, I struggled with the idea of what to do. I never did change my mind about why I didn’t want to go, but as I so often thought about seeing the kids and what a real treat it would be for me, I finally decided to David’s advice and drive over to Kingsville to enjoy the kids and hope that there would be no presentation of the retired folks. Maybe the program folks would just quietly give us a nice card or something simple like that.
So with those thoughts in mind, I drove the eight miles from home to the school. As I walked to the door, I didn’t even have time to push the button before the door flew open, and inside were two teachers I had learned to appreciate as we worked together from week to week.Before I had time to even give them a hug, several students rushed towards me shouting, “Mrs. Fairchild! Mrs. Fairchild! Where have you been? We missed you! And we need a big hug, like the ones you always gave us!” With tears in my eyes, I just stood in the same place while little kids and big seniors stopped on their way up from the lunch room to give me the hugs I had been hoping for!
I will never forget the words of a middle schooler who said as he smiled and pounded his fist in his hand. “Mrs. Fairchild, you need to go down to the lunch room to see all of the kids at the table where my class is eating. When you see them, they will all shout, “Mrs. Fairchild! Mrs. Fairchild! Then they will be so excited that they will bang their trays or lunch boxes on the table just to show how happy they are to see you!” Since I really didn’t want his class to get in trouble, I turned down his invitation, which he repeated about three times! Such sweet kids, many in need of love and hugs, and understanding.
One young lady that I didn’t know came up to me to announce, “I’m going to be your ambassador. That means I will stay with you and make sure you get to the right place in the gym for the program.” Now that was something I didn’t expect. As she led me to the stairs that go down to the stage, I was stopped many times to receive happy words and more hugs!
Finally, in the gym, I sat on the front row of the bleachers, joining some retired teachers I knew, and others that I didn’t as they had retired before I began volunteering. I was so happy to see the librarian with her young son in tow, coming over for a greeting and to show me how much that little guy has grown since I last worked with him in kindergarten a couple years ago. And what a real joy it was to see the former librarian and great friend who had come for the special day. A world traveler, she has always sent foreign stamps and post cards from just about everywhere she has been. Both of us were hoping and hoping that the other one would be at the program.A much-appreciated concert by the school band, (it seemed to me that there were twice as many members as there were when I stopped volunteering), featured among other music, the national anthems of many countries from all parts of the world. When the director called out to the students to name the country as each one was played, I was surprised to find out how many the younger kids knew!
Soon it was time to recognize the retired teachers and volunteers. At least my name wasn’t the first one called, so I had a chance to see what took place before it was my turn! As the teacher walked up to the awards table, the student speaker handed her a beautiful red rose! Then she stood while the student read some interesting words about her service through the years, before she went back to her seat. As I remember, I was the third one called to receive the rose and kind words. “Well,” I thought to myself, “that wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be!” Tears came, however, when I heard the cheers and clapping from those students in the bleachers! Why are kids ALWAYS so precious!
I clapped right along with them as other retirees were called to the table in front of us. Actually, I think part of the clapping was relief that my part of it all was over!
After greetings and hugs from more students and teachers, I talked with the former librarian for a time before heading off for home. And you know what? I have to admit that David was right again in trying to persuade me go to the celebration. As I look back now on that program, just a week ago, I am so glad that he won me over. That was a most joyous time, one that I will always remember! – CHRIS