My cherished students –

Well, here we are. It’s hard to believe that our time together in the classroom is over. I’ve never been good with endings, and part of me wants to keep you in my classroom forever.  There are so many more things left for us to learn from one another…but I know that it’s time to send you on your way.

We’ve covered a tremendous amount of academic content over the last 1-2 years, but I have a feeling that those lessons aren’t the ones that will stand out as the years go on. Rather, I think (and hope) you’ll remember the “life lessons.” So as we part, I have one more lesson left for you. And it’s an important one, so pay attention:

BE KIND.

Friends, this is the most important lesson of all. Years from now, when you run into classmates at a coffee shop or on the street, they will not remember how popular you were or how well you did on a test. They will not remember that you scored the winning touchdown or fell on your face in the hallway. Nope. They won’t remember those things. But they WILL REMEMBER how you treated them. So decide how you want to be remembered. Hopefully, you’ll choose kindness. And if you can’t be kind, be quiet.

Sometimes, being kind requires great bravery and strength of character. Sometimes it means you’ll have to make tough choices, even if those choices aren’t popular. In moments like these, be still. Listen to your conscience. It will rarely lead you astray. If something feels wrong, it probably is wrong.

And speaking of kindness, be kind to your parents and siblings. You may not realize this until you become a parent yourself, but they are your biggest champions. You are their masterpiece – so remember that the way you act is a reflection on them, too.  At the end of the day, should everyone else in this crazy world decide to walk away, your family will stand beside you. So treat them well, kiddos. Trust me on this one.

Being kind to others begins with being kind to yourself. Life is messy, my dears.  People will hurt you. Your heart will break – probably more than once.  And in those moments of messiness, it’s easy to feel inadequate. We begin to tell ourselves that we will never be good enough, smart enough, fast enough, skinny enough…the list goes on. But here’s the truth:  You ARE good enough. Even when you make mistakes (and you will make many), even when you make poor decisions or when you disappoint others, you are good enough. So tell yourself, when this happens, that you’ll do better next time. Forgive yourself, make amends, learn from it, and move on.  In these moments, allow yourself some grace. Be kind to yourself, and you’ll find that it’s much easier to show kindness to others.

Last summer, I debated coming back for another year –But I heard a quiet voice telling me that it wasn’t time yet. I’m so glad I listened.  Please know that you will forever hold a special place in my heart…my last group of kids.  When I talk to adults about you, I tell them not to worry, because our future is in good hands. I am continually in awe of your depth, of your hearts, and of your wisdom.

So as we part, I want to thank you for being such an important part of my life story.  I don’t believe that our paths crossed by accident. As a teacher, I’ve always believed that God places students in certain classes for a reason. And I am so grateful that He placed you in mine. You’ve brought so much joy into my life – joy that I will continue to carry with me forever.

Even though I won’t have a classroom at MMS, please know I will always be your teacher. I hope you’ll continue to share your triumphs and struggles with me, because that’s what I’ll miss most of all. Should you need me throughout the years, know that I’m never far.

You’ve been blessed with tremendous gifts, and I look forward to seeing what you do with them. I can’t wait to grab a front-row seat at your graduation (or your weddings, hint hint) to celebrate your success. It won’t be hard to find me; I’ll be the one clapping loudest of all.

Go forth, darlings, and serve your world well. I love you.

Mrs. Nianouris

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