My Last Day

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Not long ago, I handed in my letter of resignation. I made two hard creases and folded up 13 years of teaching English at a rural high school in Northern Indiana.

Friday was my last day in the classroom. The first student who opened my door that morning handed me a card and a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies. I read the card after she left. “I’ll be praying for you and your family,” she wrote.

The whole day was bittersweet, just like that.

This summer my family of four will begin our new life in Winnipeg, a large urban city in central Canada. It’s been a dream of ours for years. There comes a time when the only way to make a dream come true is to stop dreaming and take action.

Sometimes that means letting go of a regular paycheck and a regular routine. And the security of sensibly-placed furniture.

At least for a time.

As I emptied my classroom of 13 years of memories and supplies, I needed the help of others. I handed out most of my belongings to students and teachers. I doled out handfuls of pens and highlighters, my famous collection of kitschy garden gnomes, a giant lamp shaped like a tree stump with three perching owls on it, and hundreds of pieces of magnetic poetry. I gave away coffee mugs and framed artwork. I removed special books from my shelves, sat down and wrote notes inside them, and went to deliver them to students who might treasure a particular book from me. It felt good to give things away. It also felt strange.

So many pieces of me. Scattered.

In the afternoon, 20 or so students from Mr. Thompson’s English classroom suddenly stormed mine with an arctic blast of symbolism. These former students of mine blasted me with laughter and a blizzard of hundreds of crumpled paper snowballs.

Soon after, Mr. Thompson stopped by with a smile and a big snow shovel. He cleared the floor of the wadded-up notebook paper. His students left the snowballs a few inches deep.

Friday was strange in unspeakable ways and my stomach didn’t feel like eating lunch.

Before I left at the end of the day, two students dropped by to say goodbye. A.J. noticed my cool astronaut water bottle, still half-full, sitting on my desk. He wondered if he could have it.

I was suddenly overcome with thirst. But I knew he would enjoy it.

Then, once it was time to go — get this — these two students asked if they could pray for me.

Yes, A.J.

Yes, Kyla.

I wouldn’t want my life in the classroom to end any other way.

Special note: As our family gears up for this big move, we face many unknowns. The days before us will surely bubble and froth with adventure. My plan is to share the continuing story with you during these life-changing months as often as I can.

If you think of us, my family thanks you for your prayers.

I am grateful for the community which has formed over the last year, here on my page. You’ve left more than just messages in comment boxes. You’ve left gifts of encouragement and personal connection, so my prayers are with you, too.

 

43 thoughts on “My Last Day

  1. Love my brother Matt. So come to Canada soon and bring my sister and the two munchkins. Sorry you left your garden gnome.

  2. Matthew, I cannot tell you how overjoyed I am that you are all moving to Winnipeg!!! I am so blessed to know that my beautiful cousin Toby has a man who loves her so much he would move not just to Canada, but to Manitoba!!! I will be lifting you all in my prayers daily! So happy we’ll get to see you all so much more!! Love you all, Robin

  3. Dear Mr. Krieder,

    I wish you and your beautiful family safe travels. I truly hope to meet you this summer in MB. It’s been far too long to have you in a dear friends life and to not have met you.

    Cheers!
    Jody

  4. I have a lump in my throat. I love you so much Matthew! I can’t imagine how hard it must be, all the change. I thank God that you share this dream with my sister and that you are willing to give up what you have know for the last 13 years to start a new adventure in Canada. I can’t wait to give you the biggest hug.

  5. I’m really excited that you, Toby and the boys are moving to Canada! We do hope to spend more time with all of you! We will be praying as you make the move, and asking God to reveal his plans for you in his time. Blessings on you as you take on this exciting adventure.

  6. Fairfield won’t be the same without you and your kitschy gnomes :) But Canada will benefit from our loss Mr. Kreider and it’ll never be the same again. ;) Prayers and blessings.

    • Thanks so much, Kelly. I already miss your style. I don’t know how many times I passed you in the hallway and just felt glad you went to Fairfield. Please be Kelly, always. :)

  7. Oh Matthew! I don’t think I knew you had this big move coming. Prayers, for sure, coming your way. My heart was warmed to read about the ways that you and your students responded to one another in the goodbye. I have no doubt that you’ve been a gift to them. You’re incredibly talented.

    I look forward to hearing what’s ahead.

  8. Oh, I hate goodbyes, but I love the idea of your being bold enough to take a risk. I’m a little jealous, actually, seeing as I’ve been stuck here my entire life. I hope that this leads to lots of stories you can tell until your pen won’t write anymore.

    By the way, that is my paper wad ball up there. The precise image. My designer picked it out for me in 2006 or 2007 to be part of my logo. You can see it at the top of my website, annkroeker.com.

    • If I run out of ink, I have plenty of Ticonderoga pencils to last me a long time. :) Toby said to blame her for the image. She sent it to me. But you wear the wad with much more grace. :)

  9. I’m finishing my twelfth year of teaching next month so I imagine I would feel similarly if I left teaching. I will definitely be following your journey via your blog.

  10. I loved that as you emptied this chapter of your life, you needed help. We all need help to empty, don’t we? All those memories and supplies. Some Ticonderoga pencils too?
    I am so, so happy to see your words here. I’ve missed your writing. I was beginning to think you were only tweeting and I don’t know how to tweet. I don’t even really know what tweeting is. I suppose that is very backwards of me. I am ok with backward though. :) Maybe I will learn some day?
    I counted back the years and I believe you started teaching in 1999? Me too. I remember closing my door the last day of teaching, the emptying. No snowballs. I was only moving north a bit from Florida to Georgia. I still have a book that my 8th graders made me. I still cry when I read it. I have a feeling I always will. :)
    So much goodness in Canada. Ann, Emily, Mark Buchanan. . and now Matthew Kreider. :)
    I will pray, pray, pray and know that great things will come. . .

  11. Exciting times await you. Although I somehow missed the “what” of this big move , the big dream. I’ll backtrack on the blog to see if i can get more scoop! Looking forward to watching it unfold.

    • I’m afraid you won’t find too much of the “what” as you read back through the posts. Maybe just a glimpse. These have been busy days. But stay tuned, friend. All good stories come out, eventually. :)

  12. Ending in student-initiated prayer…I hope mine will be the same some day. I will miss you, my friend and colleague.

    Good byes…hurt.

    I love you, MK.

  13. What a beautiful last day and a true testament to the amazing teacher I’m sure you are!! Many blessings on your new adventure! My family will be praying for your family!!

  14. I am touched and inspired by your words. I, too, need to take action steps and don’t know the first one as my vision is clouded by bubbles of fear messages like a comic book drawing. So thank you for sharing about your steps. It helps my feet get moving. And I trust the Father to clear my air.

    • Every good story begins with a call to adventure. It’s our call and duty to listen, pay attention. Yes, thank goodness our Father clears the air — because there are so many bubbling voices out there! May your journey be blessed, Robin, each step of the way.

  15. Coming to the story late, but looking forward to reading the next chapters. And remembering, through this piece, a hs English teacher who meant a great deal…

  16. How exciting it is to pursue a dream (although I know it is scary, too)! I’m pleased to have recently “met” you through TS Poetry and I look forward to reading more of your adventure ahead.

    • Thanks for visiting me over here. (But TS Poetry is a fine place to meet, don’t you think :) Anyway, it’s great to have you join us on the adventure. I look forward to the conversation!

  17. Matthew….ah, a legacy of teaching you have left. (sorry, that was Yoda-like).
    13 years is a considerable chunk of time. Wow, definitely a bittersweet feeling. I will keep your family in my prayers. What a great adventure is ahead!

  18. Wow, Matthew. Big changes. Good changes. Scary changes. Prayers for peace, protection, satisfaction, clarity. Looking forward to the continuing saga.

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