My first year teaching, I had a special group of kids. They were my first group of kids that I taught "all by myself". It was a little scary, because there's no one else to blame if you screw up. To top it off, I was teaching Chemistry, my nemisis. We got through that first year together. Sure there were bumps in the road, but bonds were formed, and Chemistry was no longer my nemisis. In fact when I was offered the chance to teach Biology (my original true love), I turned it down.
That year, I had several students that I formed special bonds to, and still keep in touch with today. One of those students was a young man named Sean. He was kind of a goofy young man, but he always had a smile on his face and I looked forward to his period every single day. He and another student came up with the "Mahlberg, Mahlberg" chant that followed me down the hallways some days. He never had me for any other class besides Chemistry, but he always visited me each year. When he graduated in 2004, I cried a little bit to say goodbye to my first class of students.
Several years later, I received an email from Sean's mom. Sean's sister, Brittany, had had a tough freshman year and was discouraged with science. Sean told his mom to request me. Brittany's counselor put her in my Chemistry class, and another year with the Zarbock's began. Brittany and I clicked in a different way than Sean and I did, and we also formed a bond. After she finished Chemistry, she also continued to visit me every year and this year, she also made me cry first with something she had written in a paper for a class, and then a second time in her farewell article in the school paper.
Why am I writing all of this? Well, last week, I got an email on facebook from Mrs. Zarbock. Sean was in town (he's in the Navy) and she wanted to know if I was available to get together with them. As things worked out, Noah decided he wanted to spend a few days at Grandma and Grandpa's house, so it was just Juliana and me during the day. Sean was going to take his daughters to Build-a-Bear at the mall, so we agreed to meet up there.
I was very excited. I hadn't seen Sean in 8 years (creeping on pictures on facebook doesn't count). He looked exactly the same as he did in high school, except taller, and he gave me a big hug. His daughters are beautiful little girls and he is such a good father to them. I am so proud of the man he has turned out to be.
All of us went into Build-a-Bear together. Things were going well... until they turned on the stuffing machine. Juli couldn't handle the sounds of that, so after a quick explanation to the Zarbocks, she and I left the store and amused ourselves on the escalator and with a carousel ride (which she also freaked out on, so we sat on a bench on the carousel).
Afterwards we all sat down and ate lunch together and caught up with life. It was really nice. Then, we rode the escalators some more- all the girls were interested in them, and then stopped by the fountain to watch the "water show", and then we stopped in the Disney store. I wasn't sure how Juli would be in there, since it was past her naptime, but as soon as she saw the princess stuff, her eyes opened wide and she was under their spell the whole time we were in there. I let her pick out a t-shirt since they were having a sale, and she had to show it to everyone on the way out.
Then it came time to say good-bye. My least favorite time. I gave hugs to everyone and thanked them for letting us be a part of their family for the day. Juli and I had a wonderful day hanging out with the Zarbocks. They are truly one of my favorite families.