By Kelly Korek – I’ll be honest – for the past hour while my last batch of students are taking their final exam of the semester, I have been sitting here staring at an empty page. I honestly do not know how I can begin to put into words all that I am thinking as my student-teaching semester comes to a close and I prepare to move off into the real world.
I’m sad – sad to be leaving the place that has welcomed me into their school community from Day 1. The faculty and staff have been nothing but kind to me and have helped me feel like I truly belonged in their group, even if I was only a student teacher. But even more than my coworkers, I am sad to be leaving my students. I have grown to love each and every one of them, so it is sad to go. I am going to miss seeing my advisory girls every morning, talking about Disney or whatever big test they have coming up that day. I am going to miss all the kids who were in the play and still say “hi” to me in the hallway whenever they see me. I am going to miss the little notes left on tests or the “Bye Ms. Korek” I get at the end of Algebra 2 each day. I love all these kids to death after only a semester, so it’s sad to know I won’t get watch them finish their high school journeys.
I’m also scared – scared of taking this next big leap in my life. Up until this point, I’ve always known what comes next. After grade school came high school, after that was college, and now here I am at the end of that path of education. This is the first time in my life that I truly do not know where I am going next, and frankly that is terrifying. I know that it is a good thing and just a natural part of growing up, but it doesn’t make it any less scary.
Even so, I’m excited – excited to see what comes next for me. Excited to know that the next time I set foot in a classroom, it’s going to be all mine. Nothing against any of my field placements or student-teaching co-ops, but there is something to be said for having a class of your own. You get to shape what it looks like and you get to create exactly what you want and what your students need. So even though the future is unknown, I’m so excited for when I finally get to wherever it is I’m going.
Finally, I’m grateful – grateful for all the amazing experiences I’ve had. I am grateful to Marquette and the College of Education for all that it did to prepare me to be where I am today. I am grateful to all the people who helped me along the way – teachers, classmates, family and friends who were always there to provide that boost of support I needed. And finally, I am grateful to my students and coworkers who taught me more in this one semester than I could learn taking any class.
I feel ready to jump into the world knowing that I have what it takes to be a great teacher. Sure, I’ll make loads of mistakes along the way, but I know that I am as prepared as I can be and I will be forever grateful to all those who had a role in that.