The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Friday, June 17, 2011


It has been another emotional week. Perhaps I should start off this blog by saying that I have not slept in about 30 hours. I have done a ton of laughing, and a ton of crying, and a lot of laughing 'til I was crying too.

Ten years ago, I graduated high school. I remember that week so clearly, practically as if it were yesterday. I remember listening to the Vitamin C song "Graduation" over and over (which is possibly why I started to get so emotional on Wednesday at a luncheon when the seniors chose that song as their music for a slideshow). I remember being SO proud of the 4.0 I finished the year with. I remember being too sick to go to grad nite (damn allergies). And I remember walking the stage and feeling like I was leaving the best years of my life behind. 

SO not true. 

Truly, the last 10 years of my life have been way better. I think about the lyrics of that song....
"And so we talked all night about the rest of our lives
Where we're gonna be when we turn 25..."
I certainly did that when I graduated high school. But I did more of it tonight. You know where I was when I turned 25?  I had just finished my first semester teaching here. Teaching these students, the class of 2011, who walked the stage yesterday afternoon. 

The graduation was beautiful. Their advisory teachers each read their names along with where they would be attending college. Every student graduating from our school is attending college of some sort, and so many are attending universities. I am so proud of them. They are amazing, beautiful people, who I am lucky to know. 

Then, at 8:00, we boarded a bus for Grad Nite. 
With Brenda and Steven

This was far more special to me than mine own would have been. From the moment we boarded the bus, it was clear the students wanted to share these last few hours bonding with us, their teachers and counselors, but on a different level... as newly "former" students. They told us all their stories of the terrible things they used to do in our classes that they never got caught for and wanted to tell us how much they would miss us and how much we meant to them. 
Maribel and Joe
Joe said to me, "Mrs. Mohr... you changed my life. I'd probably be a druggie lying on the street all strung out if it weren't for you." He was joking- well, about the druggie part- and he has said similar things to me before, but coming from him on this night- his graduation night. It was meaningful. 

They made us so proud all night long. As we passed them in lines or caught a glimpse of them on the dance floor, they were truly "our" students. While students from other schools tried to figure out how to break the rules and not get caught, our students wanted to make 100% sure they were following them to a T. 

While other students "danced" in ways that I would hardly call dancing, our students stayed on the outskirts of the dance floor, partying so innocently and respectfully. Not a one of our cell phones rang with a call from park security, and they were truly the outstanding leaders we have aimed for them to be. 

On the way home, the two boys behind us decided not to sleep, unlike the other 44 students behind them, and they had us rolling in the aisles laughing with impressions of each other, impressions of their teachers, stories from the past four years, and just random nonsense. I have to admit, we woke up the bus with our laughter... more than once. But it was good times. It was a nice way to say goodbye. It was what I needed.

I returned to school just as second period was beginning. It made me feel so good that my 2nd period Honors class was excited that I had made it back in time for their class period. They are such wonderfully sweet kids. They are more genuinely sweet than any other group of teenagers I have ever worked with. I would do practically anything for these kids. They wanted to take a group picture... in fact, we took several (because everyone wanted a copy). When I sat down at my desk as the bell rang and looked at the picture in my camera, I just started to cry. 

It was a combination of everything. The overall feeling of loss of how much I will miss class of 2011, mixed with the pride and joy of knowing they are off to amazing future, and the feeling of loss of this wonderful Honors group of 2013, of whom I have grown so fond of. I tried to hide my tears, but just one student saw and suddenly, before I knew it, I was being engulfed in the biggest group hug I have ever managed to be at the center of. Class of 2013 truly has a special place in my heart. 

By 11:30 a.m., I was falling apart with exhaustion. I was almost sick with sleep depravation. I decided the best way to end the year would be games. (Not to mention, it would wake me up enough to drive home). So 5th period played hook up tag and sharks and fishes. Then, my 6th period drama class had a jumping contest. It was fantastically wonderful stuff.

So this is what it is like to have a legacy of high school students. It is amazing... and hard... and wonderful, all at the same time. 

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