The Last Day, and She Won’t Go Home

Today was the last day of school for children.  There were floods of tears from children, and also parents.  Hugs were like the jaws of life.  Pick-up on the playground at the end of the day was emotional for everyone.

Especially for Maddie.

Mom held the new baby brother while Maddie continued to play.  The more mom smiled, the more Maddie refused to go home.  Yes, refused.  Finally, I scooped up Maddie in my arms so we could walk to the classroom.  Maddie buried her head in my neck, and I asked her if she wanted me to sing a song.

“Yes”, she said.

“What song do you want me to sing?”

“Wagon Wheel.”

Of course!  “Wagon Wheel” has been ‘our song’ in the classroom whenever someone is feeling sad.  Children will want me to ‘rock me mama’.  And, I do just that.  So, I sang the chorus loud and rocked as best I could on two feet, as I carried Maddie to the classroom.

Children are very forgiving when their teacher is crying and singing and rocking at the same time.

Music is a great healer.  Love is, too.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, Kindness, Teaching young children and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

82 Responses to The Last Day, and She Won’t Go Home

  1. This brought tears to my eyes. Transitions are harder for little ones and you have definitely made a deep impression. I haven’t listened to that song for a long time but can see why she loves it. I do too and added it to my playlist.

  2. you are sowing the seeds of legacy Jennie

  3. I’m all teary-eyed now. I think the most important lesson you imparted to Maddie was that you knew what she was feeling, and you gave her what she needed in that moment.

  4. cindy knoke says:

    Beautiful! Love the song.

  5. Annie says:

    This was the first year, as a teacher, that I cried the last day. It has been an overwhelming couple of years and I have invested in the lives of my students and they are unsure of what they will do over the summer without the mundane nuances of school. It sounds silly, but we are some of the most consistent factors in their lives and they latch on to the security like a blanket. This is also the first year my daughter sobbed as she left 3rd grade. She could not bare to say goodbye to Ms. Smith as if they would never cross paths again. We came back the next day and brought her a plant to put in her garden that we had grown from a seed (a classroom assignment) to remind her of all the kids that love her and how their love continues to grow. I am so glad we went back to have closure. It was all smiles and a sweet goodbye. Teachers are such a valuable part of the lives of our youths. Thank you for all that you do.

    • Jennie says:

      Beautifully said! And, you are so right. I’m glad you went back to have closure, and the plant was an absolutely perfect gift. Keep teaching and making a difference in the lives of children.

  6. Ritu says:

    Always a tough time for both the kids and the staff. I’m sure Maddie will remember you fondly 🤗

  7. Darlene says:

    A bittersweet end to a wonderful school year. A perfect song. Have a great summer! You deserve it.

  8. Aah… how lovely and it just shows what an important role you and school play in Maddie’s life.. especially perhaps with a new baby at home getting a little more attention… The song is wonderful xx

  9. Aw, do they not come back after the holiday?

  10. Norah says:

    Nice story. Good song.

  11. beth says:

    aw, this is so beautiful. it is always such an emotional and bittersweet day. hard for all ages

  12. Oh Jennie. You are a treasure to this world
    This story has me sobbing. Not just because I was one of the crying parents, not just because I know and love Maddie and can picture this, but because the aqua room this year was something truly special I’ll miss it dearly!! And you❤️
    Thank you for your undying love of books, reading and children.

  13. Oh Jennie
    This post had me sobbing! Not just because I was one of the crying parents, or because I know and love Maddie and can totally picture this, but because the aqua room was so truly special this year and I will miss it!
    Thank you for your love of books, reading and all our kiddos❤️

  14. quiall says:

    What a wonderful song! I have never heard it before. The memories that are made in classes like yours will be remembered for their entire lives. I have memories that are so touching and so important about teachers that have meant a lot to me. I would not trade them for anything.

  15. K.L. Hale says:

    Tears. This is touching, Jennie. Maddie knows how much you love her. 🎶 💛

  16. beetleypete says:

    She will remember that moment, I am sure. Did Gloria go home with anyone for the holidays?
    Best wishes, Pete.

  17. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you so much for this beautiful post!

  18. Oh, your post brought up memories of a sad good bye of mine. We were moving to another city 3/4’s of the way through the school year and I didn’t run back and give my teacher a hug after saying good-by and good luck, and I really wanted to. I liked her a lot, but we were too old for that kind of mushy stuff in 5th grade. I still wish I had though. I’m glad Maddie got her big hug and a song too. 🥰

    • Jennie says:

      Oh, nooo!!! You still remember. I’m writing a post about a 4th grader who invited me to his play performance. Yes, the mushy stuff, and they actually love it when they’re older.

      BTW, there have been a few of those teachers for me, too. If you’re lucky you can find her on FB and say thank you. It’s never too late.

  19. petespringerauthor says:

    Children love those teachers who love them back. God bless you, Jennie, for all you do for kids. By the way, I was never ashamed to cry in front of my students. How many times did the tears form in my eyes when I got to the sad part of a classic book we enjoyed together? It shows we’re human and have feelings just like them.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you so much, Pete. And, I know exactly what you mean. I always feel that connecting with children comes from crying, belly-laughing, and every emotion in between. Yes, it’s the human element that makes the difference in teaching. I can’t get through reading about Jack the dog getting lost in the creek in Little House on the Prairie without crying. I think the reason Jennie Stories are so popular is because I’m showing children all my feelings.

      We voted on our favorite chapter reading book this year. The Wild Robot won! BTW, there is a sequel. It’s really good.

  20. Dan Antion says:

    I love that song. So nice of you to show all the love you have right up to the end, Jennie.

  21. Carla says:

    The last day of school is always so emotional. I always cried. This is such a great song and I love the rocking. Have a good summer, Jennie.

  22. Ally Bean says:

    A beautiful post. I cannot imagine how you could let go of all that love without a few tears. ‘Tis the plight of every good teacher at the end of the year.

  23. Thats the great difference, when you have so fantastic teachers like you, Jennie! As i remember, after holidays i always never wanted to return to school. 😉 xx Michael

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  25. CarolCooks2 says:

    Ahhhhhh what a wonderful moment one which will be remembered, Jennie by you both…I have added this to my playlist it is a song I haven’t heard before…x

    • Jennie says:

      It was certainly a wonderful moment, Carol. That song has become a mainstay in the classroom. Everyone loves it (me, too) and whenever a child is feeling blue, playing the song while rocking the child is the best ‘cure all’, ever. Even better, other children watch and listen as their classmate is being rocked. That is powerful.

  26. CarolCooks2 says:

    All true, Jennie xx

  27. dgkaye says:

    You’re a legend to many Jennie xx

  28. bosssybabe says:

    Awwww what a sweetheart.. you and Maddie 💕

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