Below, Amy Petrilla, guest blogger and amazing teacher, shares her heart with you as she bravely faces her last days of school this year. Feel free to give her feedback below; I’m sure she’ll love it!
“If you can advocate for something- ANYTHING- do it! There are so many who cannot.” A couple years ago, those were the words that a parent shared with my graduate class. Today, I spin the wheels of the Hot Wheels car that was passed out to us by that parent’s son (who has autism), and the words echo through my mind. Faces, lives, SOULS, flash before my eyes.
This is my fifth year teaching and somehow it is by far the hardest year to say goodbye to my students and their families. Perhaps this is because not only are some students moving on to new districts, but also I am moving on to a new school. Perhaps “the end” is so tough this year because my co-teacher and I worked so well together. Or perhaps I am still recuperating from proudly crying and watching three of my boys graduate from kindergarten and do an amazing job on stage (when at the beginning of the year they would have been terrified). I could keep guessing and adding in factors- but this afternoon during my drive home, in tears, I realize why I’ve become so emotional.
This is the year that I wrestled and struggled with special education, its politics, and my own “talents” and knowledge. I want to proclaim this and throw down an anchor for this to be known. This is the year in which my heart and soul went through a battle- and I came out on the other side knowing exactly, beyond a shadow of a doubt, why I do what I do. This is who I am. I AM A TEACHER. And I am an advocate. When the seasons and circles of life continue and September rolls around again, I will re-read this journal. Why? Because I will be so unbelievably stressed! But from this day forward I will remind myself that today- though it may bring tears- will always come. I will always be SO proud of my little guys. And certain parents’ words of thanks and appreciation will wonderfully pierce me to my core.
Teachers are supposed to change students’ lives and drive them towards a direction that causes them to be who they are truly meant to be- even when no one else believes in this. However, today, I say THANK YOU to my students and their families who have given me a purpose. Without them, I’d be lost. When I feel discouraged, I will remember to keep pressing forward because my students have shaped me and helped me be who I am truly meant to be. I can only continue to return the favor and strive to be their voice- encouraging them and their families along the way. I am more than a teacher. I am an advocate- and I will proclaim to my students and the world around them about how important and loved they are until I take my very last breath.
If you’re reading this, I urge you to pursue YOUR passions. Dig deep inside and you will find it. It is who you were created to be- and somewhere out there, a group is waiting for you to shape and love. Speak up for the voices that cannot speak. Hear for the ears that do not hear, and move for those who are immobilized. How could you do anything less?