This Open Road

A season walking southbound on the Appalachian Trail

School’s Out


This was the note from one of my students at our good-bye/holiday class party last Friday. Sums up my feelings too. Eleven weeks of teaching went by like that. As was my experience from previous terms, I had charming students, silent students, the students who came more often than not, and those students who inspired me to want to keep doing this job. The Charmers and The Inspirations were by far in the majority, usually in the same package.

There were a few in every class to whom I became completely attached. And maybe there was an entire class that I wanted to adopt. They listened. They tried. They did everything I asked them to do. If I’d asked them to stand on their heads they would have. They made me laugh every day (and not because they were standing on their heads), and they made each other laugh. Although all the classes had their own social subgroups (argh, cliques), it was obvious that they cared about each other. Every day I saw kindness and affection that seemed to come from genuine regard.

Each class had its own dynamics and after the first few weeks, I knew what to expect. I learned which student needed time and then a gentle push. I knew who I could challenge a little more than others. I knew who was taking it all in, but wasn’t going to budge from their silence. And I knew those who just didn’t understand anything I said unless a friend interpreted for them. With everyone, but especially those students, I tried to remember Maya Angelou’s words:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I hope I left a positive feeling. I know they left a beautiful, positive feeling with me.

They gave me homemade gifts full of sweet notes and love!

Homemade gifts full of sweet notes and love!


Each student wrote funny and thoughtful notes on the pieces of this puzzle. Underneath each piece was a drawing of the girl who wrote her note.

On the pieces of this puzzle, each student wrote funny and thoughtful notes, and underneath was a drawing of the girl who wrote her note! The likenesses are spot on.




A few of the class parties…12-Last Day 011

04-Last Day 029



They scare me.

I got group-hugged after this one.

 Last pics of the last class of the term. I will miss these young ladies so much.

Big respect and big love to you, my dears. Arigatou gozaimasu!


12 responses to “School’s Out

  1. Patris December 10, 2013 at 12:47 am

    You are so loved! That’s a really nice drawing of you on the puzzle piece! About the peace signs, people did that even when I was ther all of those years ago!

  2. Mike B. December 9, 2013 at 7:05 am

    Seeing all those presents/your pictures is an inspiration for us teachers to work harder!!! Glad you had another great semester. I really look forward to Japan!!!!

    • Robyn December 9, 2013 at 6:43 pm

      You will love Japan! The teaching is so rewarding and it all comes together in a very celebratory way at the end of the term. I miss them already. -R

  3. Jan Tobias December 9, 2013 at 6:36 am

    Two things, 1. where are the boys? and 2. what’s with the victory/peace sign? Respect and love, doesn’t get any better than that.

    • Robyn December 9, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      This is an all girls’ school – Sugiyama Women’s University. Not sure about the peace sign. I’ve asked and no one knows why they do it… just something to do when mugging for the camera. With respect and love, R :)

  4. Mom and Dad December 9, 2013 at 4:02 am

    We loved the puzzle too! What a wonderful and creative idea. I expect that the puzzle will be a lifetime treasure for you. And the memory of you will be a lifetime treasure for many of your students.

  5. Uncle Dan December 9, 2013 at 3:57 am

    Great report and undoubtedly a great experience for you and (again, no doubt) your students. You must be a foot taller than your students…………………

  6. kari December 9, 2013 at 1:26 am

    The handmade gifts are amazing. Esp. the puzzle. I love the spirit of the kids. Looks like a wonderful world! So good to see.

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