When I Go

Serene me.

What is my next adventure?

When I go, when I finally leave my school behind, what will I be thinking?

After 21 Septembers of coming to this school on opening day, what will I be feeling on that September morning when I don’t?

Who will I be, when I’m no longer that “nice teacher” at my school?

What will I miss?

What will I be so happy to have escaped?


I will NOT miss: the copier, with its insatiable need to eat fifth grade math worksheets.       I will not miss the pencils all over the floor, or the crayons on the heater.    I will most assuredly not miss the sound of my own tired voice, saying “If you can hear my voice, clap once!” or “In line, please!”

I will not miss having to wait until 1 o’clock for lunch, even though breakfast was a banana at 6 AM.

I will NOT miss my commute.  I don’t know why so many people feel it necessary to careen down the highway at 80 mph in a 55 mph zone.  I don’t know why they think it is acceptable to flash me the finger as they do.

I will not miss the early morning wake ups.  The older I get, the less I sleep.  That 6 AM alarm gets earlier every year.

I will not miss the testing, the data, the measurement, the standards, the strands, the Common Core or the stupid shiny boxed kits of curriculum.  I will not miss the mini-lessons, the anchor charts, the obnoxious rubrics or the jargon. I will not miss the buzzwords, the best practices or the formative and summative assessments.

I absolutely, positively will not miss one single thing that reduces a child to a number, a level, a score or a leveled group.


What will I miss in three short weeks, when I leave my teaching career behind me?

I will miss all of those incredible moments with children, when I look at them and they look at me, and when we both realize that a new goal has been reached.

i will miss watching a student with serious learning disabilities as he decodes a four syllable word on his own,  then looks at me with his blue eyes gleaming. I will miss hearing him say, “I did it!”

For sure, I will miss those mornings when I find myself at my desk surrounded by eager children who want to tell me about some little event in their lives. “Karen!  Last night my Dad said the funniest thing!”  or “My puppy was sick last night.” or “I tried to do the homework, but I’m not sure I got it right. Can you help me?”

I will so miss being asked to help.  I will desperately miss the end-of-the day hugs, and the cries of “See you tomorrow!”

I will miss seeing them grow for ten months. They will grow taller, and more confident and more skilled. The boys will begin to show knuckles on their hands and jawbones in their faces.  The girls will grow more beautiful as they approach their adult selves.  And I won’t be there to record it, or comment on it, or help them to come to grips with it.

I will miss those moments when they know that they have written a wonderful story. I will miss the excitement that they’ll feel when they figure out one of the metaphors from “The City of Ember.”

I’ll miss reading “The Liberation of Gabriel King” and “Granny Torelli Makes Soup”.

I will miss them.  I will miss them all so much.

Its time to go, and I know it.

Still, I will miss those beautiful faces so very much.

12 thoughts on “When I Go

  1. Karen, congratulations on your retirement I think your time should be put to writing stories, love reading them!


  2. I know…it’s been six years since I left the world of school and I do miss those beautiful moments with children. To help fill my need for kid time, I became a Big Sister to a then eight year old girl and that helped ease the transition for me. Something to consider…there are “littles” who need “bigs” and you would be awesome!


  3. I am crying as I read this, since my two incredible grand girls will not have the life-changing experience of having you as their fifth grade teacher. But I am grateful that my precious grand boy did and has flourished in this, your final year. And I am sure that you, as I have, will find exciting, wondrous new challenges to greet you every day as your face the next phase of your life — and being a doting grandmother comes to mind first. Remember, Karen, it’s not retirement, it’s redirection. And that is what I constantly tell people who ask me why I still write since I “retired” five years ago. We never stop, it’s in our blood and DNA. As a fellow writer, I expect to see much greatness flowing from your talented, perceptive mind. You have that book to put together, remember? And there will be more, so much more. Please don’t get depressed — because, believe me, the best is yet to come…From one of your biggest fans.


    • Nancye, I have had you in mind every day! You do inspire me to see that I am just moving on to my next big adventure! Not ever having your girls, though, is one of my big regrets…..


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