MICHAELA GIBSON MORRIS: No more pencils, no more books

The school bells will ring today with extra joy as summer officially begins in Tupelo. Kids will be free of the classroom. Teachers will be free from everyone’s kids but their own. Parents will be free from supervising homework.
For the next 101⁄2 weeks, reading is for fun, ’riting is for letters to Nana and ’rithmetic is to make sure you have enough change for a Coke and little bit of candy at the corner store.
And as much as there’s relief to have a break from the strict routine of the school year, it’s sad to say good-bye to teachers and classmates who have become part of the family.
I feel tremendous gratitude to the educators who helped my children grow over the last year. My kids had a wonderful year with gifted, caring teachers – Amanda Ball at Lawndale Elementary and Haley Stewart at Parkway Elementary – who were genuinely interested in them.
But there are so many other educators who encourage them in the halls of those schools – some of whom I never get to meet.
So thanks to the music teacher who flipped a switch in my son’s head, so when he sang at a church concert everyone could see and hear that he was singing with all his heart. Thanks to the Challenge teacher who encouraged my daughter to write wacky stories that made her laugh.
Thanks to the teachers on car duty that kept my kids safe as they started the day. Thanks to the lunch ladies who watched over my children and made sure they had a vegetable on their plates.
I’ve watched my kids work hard to learn new skills and gain confidence when they mastered them. Learning to read or make sense of geometry doesn’t come automatically. It’s been a team effort at school and at home to make it all click.
I know not everybody always gets a great year, even when they are part of a great school district. I feel fortunate, but not particularly unique, that we can honestly say we’ve had great years at school in Tupelo.
It hasn’t been the easiest year to be a teacher in Tupelo. Disruption seemed to keep coming in the form of repeated snow storms, community concerns over discipline and the departure of a superintendent.
Despite the upheaval caused by budget cuts and leadership changes, these teachers persevered. I know it wasn’t always easy, but they mostly kept the chaos the adults were feeling away from the kids.
There’s so much that’s well done in Tupelo Public School District. That doesn’t mean parents, teachers and the community at large shouldn’t push for better things or ignore problems.
But for the moment, it’s time to celebrate the end of the school year.

Michaela Gibson Morris is a Daily Journal staff writer. Contact her at (662) 678-1599 or michaela.morris@journalinc.com.

Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal