Last night I attended a farewell get together with a slew of friends from my old school.  There was lots of laughter and a few tears, but mostly my cheeks just hurt from all the smiling.  One of the highlights was a gift from my dear friend, Emily.  The glowing bear.

Emily’s first year at my school was my second year teaching.  She was coming from another district and while she was much younger than me, she had lots of teaching experience.  Her room was just around the corner from mine – this is when I still taught second grade.  We became fast friends, but really, I spent almost every morning in her classroom because she was (and still is) a master teacher.  One of those people just born to teach.

I learned more from her in that first year than I could have ever imagined. She taught me about managing a classroom, literacy instruction, and staying organized.  Now she didn’t try to teach me those things, just being in her room, watching her was enough.

From time to time, when my students were at lunch or in a special, I’d wander in, sit in the back of her group of friends huddled around her, and just watch her in action.  She really is one of the special ones – kids who are lucky enough to have her never forget her… and they learn so much too.

Anyway, at Christmas that first year I wandered in to wish Emily a Happy Holidays before our long vacation and she was gathering up her loot to take home.  There, sitting on top of the pile, in all its’ glory, was the glowing bear.

A small crystal teddy bear that, yes, glowed.  Now, when switched on, it glowed different colors, changing from a light purple, to red, to green, blue, yellow, and then cycling all over again.  To prove his love, he held a crystal rose.  It was an object of beauty.  It was a special gift from one of her students.

I had to have it.  I asked, pleaded, even begged for it, but being the teacher she is, Emily wouldn’t part with it.  She kept it in her classroom and every so often, when I was feeling down or defeated, she’d turn it on and let me bask in its’ glow.

Last night, Emily gave me the glowing bear.  Sure, one of his ears was broken off by her toddler, but she included the ear in the bag and assured me I could hot glue it back on.  When I lifted it out of the small gift bag, she had already switched it on so as I raised him up on my had, the first thing I saw was the glorious glow.

I’m going to bring him to my new room and keep him on my desk.  Every once in awhile, when I need it, I’ll switch him on and know Emily is close, if not around the corner, in my heart.

As we start the new school year, remember, the school might assign you a mentor, but we always find our true guides and friends.