To: My Last Class of Senior Babies—Love, KA

Dear Hampton High School Class of 2018,

Happy Graduation! I cannot believe how fast time has flown by. I have missed you every day since I left the classroom to pursue my dreams in the post-secondary education sector.

As an experienced secondary educator, I have conditioned myself to be able to handle the complex emotions that no professor warned me about during my undergraduate studies. If every excitement, stress, frustration, success, and failure was precisely described and accurately documented in the classroom arena, our country would not just be looking at a teacher shortage, but ultimately a teacher extinction.

For me, this broad-spectrum of emotions is always exemplified when I get a new group of 12th graders, and it was not any different with your class. Every August, I begin to mentally prepare myself for May, so I can emotionally process the sadness and excitement of another graduation. I had no idea that my traditional adjustment period would be cut short because of the need for me to move back home to Mississippi.

You will never understand how hard it was for me to leave you during the middle of the school year. It honestly felt like I was abandoning you because I thought no one could come in and love you all the way that I could. I also knew there was still so much wisdom that I wanted to pass on before you left to pursue your own dreams.

I am not sure if I have been as helpful and inspirational as Mr. Feeny (Boy Meets World) or Mrs. Townsend (my high school English teacher) like I dreamed of in college; all I do know is you have been the group of students I always dreamed of teaching.

Each of you have the potential to truly do great things in this world. I hope that you will always put others before yourselves, and you work harder than you are required to.

Always know that I pushed you to go above and beyond because I was encouraged to do the same. Overachievers are often criticized, but I am firm believer that hard work truly does pay off in the end.

I hope that you apply your hard-earned knowledge towards a successful career, whether you decide to go to college or not.

I pray that you wholeheartedly give all of the love, dedication, and sacrifice necessary to take care of your family. You were so understanding when I left to take care of mine, and I am forever grateful. I will never forget the kindness you all showed when my grandmother passed away. Thank you for all of the support you gave me when I decided to move home. I have never once doubted that y’all are on my team. I will always appreciate your maturity, empathy, and encouragement.

I know y’all don’t miss my lectures, but the main lessons that I want you to take with you into the real world have nothing to do with my English class. Regardless of how much I “bled” on your papers when I graded them, you will not know how to “adult” until you experience the world on your own.

I could sit here and waste your time by penning a fantastic misrepresentation about how “the world is your oyster” and some “Carpe Diem” hoopla, but y’all know I’m a realist, and I’d never lie to you like your parents did about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

Here’s the run down: life is hard, love is harder, and people suck. The beauty of it all is that every trial, every success, every tear, every smile happens for a reason, and you are here for an even bigger purpose than any of us can fathom. You may not know your place in this world just yet, but I promise you will one day.

Look, I couldn’t wait to grow up, go to college, and have a family. I can proudly boast that I have accomplished those dreams, but not without struggles and heartbreaks. There have been countless times that I have wanted to give up, but I am so grateful that I didn’t. You will struggle, but you will succeed.

Tonight, I will watch my last group of seniors wall across the gym floor to mark a major academic mile-stone, and I couldn’t be prouder! Just know that whether I am asked to be a coach or forced to be a spectator, I will always be your biggest fan.

Each of you have blessed my life more than you will ever know. I hope that you will never forget how special you really are.

Class of 2018, …Are you ready for it?

All of my love,

KA

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