Ever wondered what the walls of your school would say if they could talk? Probably something like this.
Dear teachers and students
Well, it’s nearly the summer holidays. I won’t say I’m not sorry to see the back of you, because that would not be true. I am knackered. I have stood firm as you have bashed and crashed your way through me for yet another year, as you have stubbed your toe and knocked your funny bone on all my sticky-out edges and awkward corners. I am in need of rest, repair and recuperation.
But then, so too are you. I know how hard you have worked this year and what it has taken out of you. I have seen everything. I have watched you shudder an exhausted but satisfied sigh when you reached the end of that pile of marking. I held you up when you braced against me in the playground in the face of one more taunt or dirty look. I stood in silent witness when you cried in the toilets after that awful meeting, and I took it in my stride when you jumped for joy along the corridor when the exam results came in. I have watched every triumph and every screw-up, every connection made or severed.
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I know some of you will soar out my door on the last day of term. For some of you, long summer days await, filled with suntan lotion, cold drinks and family fun. My walls will be but a distant memory, easily chased away by another sangria or a homemade ice lolly in the back garden. But I see the rest of you, too. I have clocked your long, backwards glance as you drag your feet when leaving each Friday afternoon and I know that, for you, this summer will be free of ice lollies. I know that the empty weeks ahead fill you with dread and that you will be counting the days until my bell rings again – signalling routine, consistency, regular mealtimes and the faces of people who care and who notice.
I want you to know that I won’t forget you. I will be resting over the summer for sure, but I will be counting the days until you are back too. Because I was not built to stand empty. I was built to be noisy and full and to provide you with what you need, whatever that might be. And so I will prepare. A lick of paint here, a scrub down over there. I will get ready for another year of you bumping into me. Of scuff marks on my skirting boards and football prints on my nice new paintwork. I will get ready for you huffing and puffing about too-stiff doors and far too many steps. I will get ready to be your safe space. To be the mute observer to your every victory and failure.
Know that in my silence, I cheer you on. You are my purpose, you are why I am here and I think you are brilliant. I stand with you every time you try and fail and get up to try again.
So, whether you run gladly to me in August or drag your feet as you sadly cast off your sombrero, know that I won’t take it personally. I just want you to be OK. And to know that I will be waiting here for you whenever you need me – and so very glad to see you.
Susan Ward is depute headteacher at Kingsland Primary School in Peebles, in the Scottish Borders. She tweets @susanward30