Goodbye Horton


Today was the last day before winter break. My amazing aide stopped by to bring my kids German treats. On the way out she said, “Happy last teaching day of the decade!”

Crazy. End of a decade. At the start of the decade, I never thought I’d be in a first grade classroom.

But God knew. He knew I would fall head over heels in love with this hard, crazy, challenging profession.

He knew I would be sitting here crying over a lost Horton stuffed animal.

Horton isn’t really lost. He is going home with one of my students who fell in love with him on back to school night. Horton was his reward, his way to communicate, and his connection to my room. I was told a few weeks ago that they were moving.

Right away I knew I would give him Horton. I knew I would cry. I knew I would worry and wonder. I always do when I have to say goodbye.

What I didn’t know is how my other students would handle giving Horton away. They loved Horton too.

But over the course of five months, something happened in my room. They became friends, coaches, and teachers to their peer. They would give him sentence starters to communicate his needs and wants. They would cheer and encourage when he would ask and answer questions. They would offer him Horton or remind him that they believed in him. They never treated him as anything less than a friend who needed them.

So when I asked if they would be okay with giving away something in the room that he loved…before I could say my idea…I had 10 students shout HORTON! Three ran to give him away. My heart split open and love spilled out of my eyes as I watched these 6 and 7 year olds hug and encourage our friend. They gave away Horton and joy for their friend.

Today I held his hand and he squeezed it twice. Our own little goodbye game. We talked about the sun and moon and what it means to be brave. Then I got one last megawatt smile before goodbye.

“Horton, he feels happy.”

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