Flippity Flop by Jenelle MacDonald

19 05 2016

To all who are following our Antiguan journey:

As we pulled out of the parking lot to leave Villa Primary, out of the car window I saw one of my students waving to me with tears streaming down her face. All week the thought of this day arriving has been weighing on my heart. As a second year Champ I knew how tough this day would be, no matter how much I tried to prepare myself for it. It honestly just came upon us so fast. This month has just flown by. I have been trying to mask the heartache with positivity when I am around my students, trying to be strong for them. However, every day it has become harder and harder to not tear up every time a student asks me if I am coming back next year. Villa Primary School is where I was placed last year and every day I am thankful that I was able to go back again this year. I have been able to watch my students grow even more than they did last year. My relationships with them grew even stronger. For a lot of my students, since I have been there for two years now, they firmly believe that I’ll be back next year. As much as I’d love to go back to Villa next year, I have told my students that if I do not come back, it is not because I don’t want to. Every day I have tried to tell them how much I will miss them when I am gone but what they won’t truly understand is that each and every one of them has a piece of my heart, that I will cry my eyes out when I get home wishing I was back at Villa teaching or that every day for the next year, something will remind me of them. The bottom line is, I am not ready to leave. One famous quote that is always in the back of my mind and I think truly applies to this experience and today especially is, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” written by Doctor Seuss. As sad as today was saying goodbye for a second time to my amazing students, I have to remember all of the incredible games we played, all of the laughs we had and all of the goofing around we did. I know that when I get home there will be tears of grief but for right now, smile is exactly what I am going to do.

 

This experience teaches me so many things about who I am as a person as well as who I am as a teacher. Coming back for a second year I have truly realized that this is my passion and this is where I am supposed to be. I am so thankful for the amazing teachers at Villa for being so welcoming to my teaching partner, Kristi Rexhepi (aka. Teacher RJP as the students call her) and I. Our relationship with our teachers has become even stronger than last year and I am glad that our collaboration has gone so smoothly. Those same amazing teachers went above and beyond today for our last day of school.  They all came together to see us off, they made sure they had our contact information and they gave us gifts. We learned so much from them and we could not appreciate their feedback and advice enough. From talking to my fellow Champions I know that all of us are grateful for the teachers that we were lucky enough to work beside at each of our schools. So, to show our appreciation and love for our schools and teachers all of the Champions donated equipment, school supplies and an LCD projector, which was accepted with so much enthusiasm and gratitude. I would like to give special thanks to Lexi Datama, our STAMPer, who had to leave our school after two weeks. Lexi, the students ask where you went almost ever day and are constantly telling us that they miss you. Thank you for all of your feedback, kindness, enthusiasm, expertise and friendship. These last two weeks have not been the same without you and just know that your presence has been missed.

 

Now that our last school day has come to an end, it is time to focus on our last Unity Games day tomorrow. This year I was given the opportunity to be the Unity Games Coordinator and the position has certainly taught me a lot about time management, organization and flexibility but I have loved every second of it. Each week of Unity Games our team has become stronger and stronger. I am so proud of all of the Champions for all of their hard work, dedication, enthusiasm and flexibility when it comes to unity games. They are the ones that make these games come to life and put smiles on all of the student’s faces. As the coordinator, I am not able to teach any of the games unfortunately but I do get to walk around and witness the event in its entirety and it is quite a sight. Tomorrow, we are bringing Unity Games to Adele School for Special Children in the morning and T.N. Kirnon for the afternoon. For tomorrow we are lucky enough to have amazing helpers from Lehigh University who are going to help make sure the day runs smoothly. I am also extremely happy to announce that our alumni champs, Celine Charbonneau, Shelby Lund and Carly Wright, will also be helping out with our big day. I can’t wait for tomorrow because I know how excited the students are that we are coming and I know our whole team is ready to go out with a bang!

See you soon Canada,

Jenelle Macdonald
Villa Primary School


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4 responses

19 05 2016
Gina Ruggles

Hello Jenelle, so emotional. I started to tear up after I read your first few lines. Thank you for sharing your story.

19 05 2016
Courtney

Good luck with your final Unity Games Jenelle (from a previous Unity Games coordinator). You have done so well so far and you will all do great tomorrow!

20 05 2016
Kalie Webb

Good luck today Champions!! You will do GREAT! I have really enjoyed being a part of this journey through the blog. It looks as if you have all had such an amazing month!

20 05 2016
Lexi

It’s such a difficult day to get to, that final day of teaching and I can only imagine what year two of leaving must feel like. I admire your commitment to smile. All you can do is hope that the students know we are equally as sad to leave as they are to see us go. It is such an incredible program in the way that connections are made, however that makes it that much harder to leave.

I am also very impressed with the relationship you had built previously with the teachers, and am so happy to her how strong that relationship became. Its exciting to hear that an international collaboration is happening, and happening with such strength!

I’m sure that Unity Games went off without a hitch today and that you’re all feeling the twenty different emotions that come with having such a successful and amazing experience.

Know that all of us STAMPers are awaiting your safe return, and can’t wait to reunite with everyone and hear your stories! Miss you dearly!

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