I have always loved and I mean LOVED Mrs. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus series of books. She always was so interesting, so cool, and had such amazing outfits! There was just something about her that I found so fascinating. Honestly I still find her fascinating.
Becoming a teacher helped me to understand what drove my love of the Frizz. It was her excitement and willingness to allow her students to learn.
She was always more of a side note to their adventure than a main story line. She facilitated the experience, but the learning happened through the kids themselves, through their choices and actions.
She was excited and passionate and just so chill. As someone who has probably never been described as “chill” I particularly appreciate her ability to not freak out when her students get baked inside a birthday cake or swallowed by a fish. I had to learn how to not freak out when a self portrait ended up with a green face and purple hair or a kid though it would be better if their polar bear was dancing on two feet instead of walking on all four.
There are days that I walk into the bathroom after work and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror; my hair is usually crazy, my already colorful outfit now covered in paint, sometimes pencils or brushes in my hair…and all I can think is Mrs. Frizzle!
Recently I started to wonder, did I turn into Mrs. Frizzle because I loved her so much? Or did I love her so much because I am Mrs. Frizzle!?!
This week is my last week teaching, not just for the summer, but for now. I have loved and served these families, instructed and inspired these kiddos for 5 years. It’s longer than I’ve ever lived in one house, longer than I was ever at a school as a kid. I think that’s part of why this transition is so emotional for me.
For the last couple of weeks I have found the moments when I am in my classroom alone almost unbearable. It’s like my room is suddenly filled with an ocean of memories and they are threatening to drown me. But this morning I sat in my classroom with tears flowing freely from my eyes and I choose to let the waves of memories crash into me.
I remembered the kiddos who came to me young and chubby as 4 and 5 year olds and how much they’ve grown, what incredible 9 and 10 year olds they are. I remember the girl who covered herself in paint, the boy so scared to get his hands dirty with paper machè and after just a mild encouragement was suddenly covered from head to toe in it. I remember the conversations, the tears, the laughter. Oh, and the dancing, you can’t forget the dancing! Some of my most precious memories are of the times that we were all working and dancing and signing.
This school is in a very real way a part of my family. For reals though, my son came to me through this school, so it’s not just an expression. I have celebrated with our families, laughed with them, and grieved with them. I have had the privilege as the art teacher of having the same kiddos year after year, of building relationships, of getting to know them all. Of knowing all the siblings and most the moms and dads. And not just knowing their faces, but knowing their stories, their trials, their sadnesses, and their joys.
As I step in faith away from this and towards what God has for me and my family next I am both excited and sad. I know I walk in obedience, and I trust God’s plan…but my heart is heavy as I go.
I hope that I was of the same breed of teacher as Mrs. Frizzle. I pray that my students came to my room excited, anticipating what we would do next. I hope they have been filled with a sense of wonder and curiousity about history and science and math. I hope that they have left my art room marveling at the beauty in this world and the awesomeness of our Creator. Because that’s what they did for me.