On the last day of school, I was showered with an assortment of gift cards to restaurants, movie theaters, Target, etc. I received handmade cards signed by my students, tickets to summer concerts...and the best gift, this little fellow.
Leo was hand painted by my student Trisha. She worked on it for a long time, painstakingly thinking and finally choosing just the right colors for Mr. Leo's body of plaster.
Trisha won't be returning to our school next year. She didn't graduate but will move on to kindergarten at another school- and I will miss her SO much. She was a student of mine for two years and while she is definitely a strong willed young one, we got along very well. She loved to play with my hair and cuddle in my lap while I read a book to her.
On this particular afternoon, her mom came to pick Trisha up. She nagged and nagged, barely allowing time for Trisha to say her final goodbyes to all of her teachers. As she and her mother walked through our classroom door, another child had to use the restroom so I stood half inside, half outside and watched, trying not to cry as Trisha walked out of my life for the last time.
One second later, she was back in the classroom, with a sad, wistful look on her face and Leo held tightly in one hand. She announced that she wanted Leo to be mine. I questioned her about the action, reminding her of how long she'd worked to make him just right. She shook her head yes over and over, hugged me one last time, and left Leo in my care.
It was the best gift she could give-- and I will treasure it forever.
I'll miss you, Trisha!