My husband and I hit the road 2 ½ hours before the sun arose this morning with coffee in hand to attend the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute competition in Coos Bay, Oregon where three of my former students were competing. This event had been on my calendar for months and there was no way I would miss it. These students had been in the culinary program at South Medford for three years and this would be their final competition in high school. All the skills they’d learned so far lead up to this moment.
When I left the classroom to be our district’s Tech Integration Specialist this School year, I knew it would be magical moments like these that I’d miss most. All of my student’s hard work culminated into authentic experiences where they have the opportunity to challenge themselves beyond what they think they are capable of; shining for the world to see. Today was most definitely a magical moment and I was so overjoyed I was invited to be a part of it.
As I watched my former students with incredible pride, I thought about all the skills they’d learned in my classroom over the years and how much they'd grown. I thought about the fun memories that were made. The laughter and tears that were shed as life happened. The good. The bad. The happy. The sad. I also thought about the memories made this year without me. At first it made me sad. Sad that I hadn’t been a part of their Senior year. Sad that I’d missed a portion of their journey. However, that sadness was soon replaced by joy as I witnessed my former students interact with their new teacher. She was reminding them of the techniques they had practiced, and of all they were capable of. She believed in them, just as I did. I realized that by passing the torch this year, I had empowered a new educator to share her gifts. Her skills. Her passion. Her story. I had played a part in igniting my students' passion for cooking and now she was fanning the flame, giving it oxygen to burn stronger.
Sometimes life brings us new adventures. It doesn’t mean that we are abandoning the people that we serve, but instead providing new opportunities for learning and growth. As we embark on these new adventures, we are able to expand and amplify our impact. The transition to a new role is emotional at times. I poured my heart into teaching my students and developing a culinary program. I absolutely loved it. However, this new adventure truly has empowered me to expand and amplify my impact. I’ve been able to share my passion for magical learning with new people. I’ve been given the awesome opportunity to spark joy and I am so incredibly grateful!
As I watched my former student, Bailey, walk up to accept her first place trophy and $4000 culinary scholarship today I was overcome with emotion. In a few short months she would be embarking on new culinary adventures with a new set of educators here at Oregon Coast Culinary Institute. New skills. New experiences. New opportunities. I felt so honored to have played a part in her journey of discovering her passion and so grateful to her new teacher for nurturing it and bringing her to this moment where she had been given the opportunity to chase her dreams.
To make this day even more special, I ran into a former student who was attending the culinary institute at the competition. She would be graduating with her culinary degree in a few months and it seemed like just yesterday she was in my classroom. As she shared about her culinary instructors, opportunities that she had been provided, and the incredible learning she has experienced, I thought about the "L" of my MAGICAL acronym: Legacy. Each day is an opportunity to make a positive impact on those we serve. We are writing our legacy one magical moment at a time. If in your your journey a new opportunity arises that allows you to expand and amplify your impact, embrace it. By stepping out on a new adventure, you just may be giving someone else the opportunity to fly. What an incredible gift we give students when our legacies are intricately woven into a beautiful design that empowers students to leave our schools and go leave a legacy of their own.
Bailey, Kara, and Grace, I am so incredibly proud of you!
Thanks for letting me share in your journey.
Valerie, I couldn't have passed the culinary torch to a more qualified, caring, and talented teacher. You are making an incredible impact and leaving a legacy that will last forever.
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.