Elli's teacher is retiring tomorrow. It is fascinating to me to watch because it is such a powerful event for her. She is a very firm disciplinarian, to the extent that many parents I have spoken to feel intimidated by her presence. Needless to say she controls a classroom of small people vastly more effectively than I would be able to. It has been a very interesting short while seeing her prepare to transition from teaching to retirement as her emotions shine through the unshakable aura of certainty and authority she usually projects. It is obvious that she truly loves teaching and helping children learn and grow and that she is reluctant to give that up. She combined that presence, that force of order, with a tremendous compassion and desire to see all of her charges thrive.
Over the last few days she has been giving away all of her classroom materials to other teachers and to the children - Elli acquired a Jacob's Ladder and a strange spelling block toy from her. It must be a powerful and difficult thing to watch those you spent so much time and energy working with carting away the tools of your trade, the savings of a lifetime. All those pieces carefully conserved for just the right moment, flying away to new homes where they may end up just tossed on the heap (or, of course, loved very much) and even though we all know we should not become too attached to things no one can deny the power of that event.
Often I hear or read the opinion that teachers are mostly just putting in their time, collecting their cheques, waiting for that golden pension. There are teachers that fit that mold to be sure, but this one was certainly not paid enough for what she produced, nor can any reasonable person deny that she has earned a rest.