The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Just So You Know, I Still Care

After today there are just six days left of school. Of those six days, at least one of them will include a half-day of fun and games as a school-wide celebration of the end of the year. Another afternoon will be the fifth grade musical and recognition. Another afternoon will be an assembly for third and fourth grade to show off some dances they have been working on. If it rains tomorrow afternoon, our kickball game will be delayed, and that will take up another afternoon. So time is really running short.

At this time of year, there are a lot of students who start to mentally check-out. This is a normal part of group dynamics, actually. There are teachers, too, who start to do this. The year is ending, they’ve done about all they can do, and it is time to start wrapping up and saying goodbye. Again, a perfectly normal part of life. We’ve spent all year together and now it is almost time to pack up, clean up, and move on.

But only almost.

You see, even with the half-days that are going to take away time from the classroom, and even with the swift approach of the year, we aren’t actually there yet. Every year, right about this time, I start to think about my all-time favourite Olympic marathon runner. He isn’t the guy who set records and dominated the field for years. I don’t even know if such a a guy exists. In fact, he’s not even the guy who won once, and the only record he probably set was for the worst Olympic marathon time. Maybe. I’ve never really checked. And, in fact, he was an Olympic  athlete long before I was even born. But I still love his story.

John Stephen Akwhari was Tanzania’s representative in the 1968 Mexico City Olympic marathon. During the race, he had gotten injured and lagged behind the other runners. This is his story:

For some reason, that story has always resonated with me and I think about it during this time of year. Even though we are so very close to the end, we aren’t actually there, and so I remind myself that just as Mr. Akwhari was not sent 5,000 miles to start a marathon, I was not given these 24 students to start the year. I was given them to finish. And that’s exactly what I am going to do. So even though some of them may have checked out and decided the year is done, I am going to keep on pushing them to push themselves to make it to the year. Because I still care, and that’s enough for me.

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