Today is the last day of exams for my 6th year students. I've taught most of them for three years, from their Junior Cert days right up until this. It's the first time that I've taught students right up to the very end. I work in a centre much smaller than a mainstream school, so there are just seven young people altogether in 6th Year. Having worked closely with these young people for three years, I'm sitting here now feeling equal parts sad that I'm saying goodbye to them, and proud and happy that they are about to leave. By half four this evening, they will all have completed their Leaving Certificate.
They're seven very different people, each with their own strengths and talents, each with their own ideas, and each with their own future. Like countless students across the country, they have come through their own difficulties and setbacks to get to where they are now. In the book that our centre published last month, "What the Life Centre Means to Me", a few stories mentioned teachers who told young people that they would never achieve their Junior Cert, let alone their Leaving. There is absolutely no excuse for ever saying this to a child. Ever.
I'm writing this now more for myself as an outlet, but if I'm going to use this blog to keep a record of my thoughts on school and teaching, there would be a huge gap in it if I didn't record how absolutely, immensely proud I am of my students, how much I have enjoyed having the privilege of teaching them, and above all how much I have learned from them.
(Behold!) Thank you.