I remember the first day I went to Dilley to teach Anna’s first grade class Yoga. I remember making a Facebook post that went something like this: After years of teaching everyone elses children I finally get to teach my very own. I was so excited to be with her in this way and so excited to meet all of her new classmates.
I was very cautious during these times not to embarrass her. I wanted Anna to enjoy my visit and to want me to be around. I figured if I acted too goofy or said anything weird she would eventually ask me not to do it anymore. I wanted to be part of her education and participate with her like I have done with so many other kids in my 15 years of teaching.
I think it is safe to say that Anna loved my visits; they usually coincided with a weekend at her dad’s, so every other Monday at 11:00 we reunited in the gym for some Yoga. She loved it when I asked her to demonstrate and she told me that she loved that I was getting to know her friends. I usually ended our time together asking the kids a crazy question, then going around the circle getting their individual answer, having them give me their name and then excusing them to line up – my way of making connections with the kids and learning their first names. I wanted those connections with Anna’s classmates, it allowed me to put a face with the names Anna would bring up at home. She would tell lots of stories about kids in her reading group, new friends she was making, girls she played with at recess and naughty boys that were bugging her.
Anna always wanted to answer my question last, after everyone else went, making her last in line. In all of my years of teaching there have only been a few students that wanted to be last in line, Anna was one of them. Her reasons were different from others, she wanted to give me a kiss and hug me tight before she left. Being last in line ensured that her and I would be in the gym for a brief moment alone and she could love on her Mama.
For the first time since Anna went to Heaven, I went today and taught the first graders Yoga. They were so excited to see Anna’s mom and I was so excited to see her classmates. I definitely felt a little rusty in my teaching skills at first (I still have not started back to work), but quickly realized that after 15 years it’s kind of like riding a bike. I jumped right back in, having fun, holding them accountable and giving them an opportunity to use their bodies. We stretched, did yoga to music, we ran around the gym and played their favorite game, Dead Fish.
I must admit though, that during the entire class, I had my all time favorite student on my mind. She was so cool, so fun to be around, so smart, so beautiful and rocked it when it came to holding a tree pose. When playing Dead Fish she could lay completely still without moving a muscle longer than anyone else, even when the bear, another student, tried to make her laugh.
I know that Anna was in the gym today watching her Mama play with her classmates. I know that she’s proud of me for keeping those connections and for making sure that, even though they didn’t know her for long, she will never be forgotten.
Looking forward to another Yoga class next week and watching this group of first graders grow up!
Forest Grove Running Club Summer Track and Field Program for Kids 2012