By Rachael Gottlieb, first year AmeriCorps member on the Hallsville Elementary School team

Less than a month from today, I will be exiting the fourth grade classroom that I’ve called home for the past ten months and will no longer see twenty-four students four days a week. It doesn’t seem too long ago that we all first met each other, and I know the last day of school will be here before I can blink my eyes. After such an eventful year, I am feeling many different emotions about it coming to an end. So the question is, how can I go about ending these relationships in a healthy and happy way?

Something I’ve been doing since the beginning of May is having my students celebrate their achievements and how far they’ve come throughout the year. My focus list students in math, English/language arts, attendance, and behavior have all made major improvements since we first started working together in the fall, whether it be with their comprehension skills when reading or their confidence in their abilities to interact with their peers and adults. I’ve made sure to tell them I’ve noticed these accomplishments. I’ve also asked them to personally reflect on their year and how far they’ve come since September. During our conversations, they are able to take notice to how they’ve honed their own strengths and grown throughout the year. It is really amazing to watch them recognize their own abilities, strengths, and potential.

I will be returning for a second year with CYNH as an Impact VISTA, so I will fortunately still get to see my students sometimes at school events or during observations. However, since I of course will not get to see them four days a week anymore, I have been preparing not only all of them, but myself as well, for our mentor-mentee relationships to end. I wrote each student a letter and made each student their own unique friendship bracelet. I cannot express how fortunate I feel to have been able to build great individual relationships with almost every student in my classroom, and I want to leave them with these special letters and bracelets so that they know how grateful I am that they all came into my life. I will miss seeing all of them on a regular basis very much. With that though, I am confident of two things: one, that they will all be in good hands with the City Year AmeriCorps team at Hallsville next year, and two, that many of them have the ability to carry themselves to their potential.

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