Today one of our students is returning to Nicaragua so that she can finish her final year with her friends at her high school. Monica has been with us since January, completing one full year with HoneyFern on the same calendar as Nicaragua, whose school year runs January to November, so that she could learn English and still stay on track.
Monica is 17 and very intelligent. When she first came to America, the public school system decided to place her in 9th grade, and her aunt decided just as quickly that was unacceptable for a multitude of reasons. Thankfully she found HoneyFern; Monica started an intensive course in survival English while at the same time getting multilingual instruction in physics, biology, Spanish literature, politics, culture and history.
The transformation in her is astonishing. She is still very soft-spoken, but now she sees the possibilities and knows herself better than when she first came here; she is more confident. Practically, her command of English is amazing; she just finished a research paper in English on World War II and routinely has in-depth conversations with us in English.
I have to be very honest, though, and say that this is the absolutely hardest part of the school: losing students. I have always gotten attached to my students, from my very first year of teaching, but the relationships we develop at HoneyFern are so much deeper. I miss them terribly when they go, and I wonder how they are doing. I am still in touch with most of the students who have left. They are so much a part of my life that when they are not here, I feel a void. Perhaps this is a sad commentary on my personal life, but I really don't think so. I feel "called" to be a teacher, and it makes sense that I would invest so much of myself into the students.
Not much consolation as Monica packs up her papers and prepares to leave. We hope she comes back for the tiny house open house in May 2013, and we are thinking about going to Nicaragua for her graduation in November. I wish her the very best on her journey, and send out my heartfelt gratitude for all she has brought to me and HoneyFern.