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Serenity Prayer

< by Jill >

There’s absolutely nothing serene about teaching second grade. It’s a constant swirl of papers, kids, crayons, pencils, more kids, and stickers. If, at the end of the day, you make it home without any stickers in your hair or tempera paint on your kneecaps, it’s been a good one.

My first year of teaching, I did what all first-year teachers do: I spent too much money on classroom supplies, I made too many lesson plans that already exist somewhere on the internet, and I spent too many nights updating bulletin boards long after the last janitor punched out.

On the eve of winter break of 2008, after all the kids cleared out, Makayla’s mom stopped in the classroom and asked for a moment. My gut clenched up — Makayla had scored very low on her quarterly reading test, despite several one-on-one tutoring sessions. I smiled and said, “Sure,” expecting a verbal assault for my failure to bring Makayla up to speed.

“Here,” she said, handing me a small parcel wrapped in tissue paper.

“Should I open it now?” I asked. She nodded.

Inside, I found a small glass plaque studded with heart-shaped rhinestones. “Makayla added those,” she said.

I read it softly:

God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

She gave me a hug. “Have a wonderful winter break, Ms. K. Get some rest.”

I planted the plaque on my desk and turned down the lights. It stayed on that desk for two years, and has since migrated to my home. It’s a constant source of comfort on days when, metaphorically, I have stickers in my hair and paint on my kneecaps.

Serenity Prayer