I just retired after 43 years of teaching. I taught fifth grade for the last 14 years in South Carolina. Prior to that, I taught in the lower grades in Massachusetts. I would still be in the classroom today had it not been for the “politics” in a southern school; every year an older teacher is singled out — cost too much. I miss the bright eyes when a student “gets it.” I have become friends with some of my former students on Facebook- love hearing about their lives today. One shared a poem I had written to the class on their last day. I spend a lot of time with my two granddaughters and meet students at parks, Mc Donalds, grocery stores……….. It is rewarding to hear their memories of our classroom. This last year gave me one of my most rewarding memories; a mom actually broke down in tears when I spoke about what a good job she was doing with her twins — apparently she never got compliments on her parenting. I don’t miss the testing- I believe that about 12 weeks of testing is a little much. I don’t miss the constant scrutiny of administrators who left the classroom evaluating your work in 5 minutes. Yep, I am a little bitter about the ending but would never give up the rewarding moments I experienced for 43 years. I now do a lot of learning encouragement with my own granddaughters; the oldest reads proficiently as a first grader. My youngest is 6 months- when I visited her the first time, I brought her a book with a note telling her that when Grandma Claudia comes, she always brings books.