a large inflatable arch with the word finish on it

Why Bother Crossing the Finish Line?

Being the competitive individual that I am, over the years, I’ve been drawn to enter a few competitions. These challenges gave me a reason for working out as well as a goal to strive toward. 

After I completed my first sprint triathlon and trained and finished three Olympic distance triathlons. Other competitions I entered included a half-marathon, a few shorter distance races and four two mile open water swim contests. 

Each race and each course presented its own challenges. Choppy waters, steep hills, and at some point or another, I had to fight against the urge to quit. But, in spite of the hindrances, I never quit any of the races I began and I always crossed the finish line.

                  The Finish Line

Although teaching is not a competitive race, there is still a finish line that teachers and students cross together, the last day of school. Today was the last day of school in my district. The students that have been under my tutelage for the last 180 days completed their fourth grade year and I’ve completed my job as their teacher. 

As with any course I’ve raced, teaching any group of kids has its own special obstacles. There is always a certain number of students who resist learning, and parents who don’t see the importance of education. Then there is opposition from the administration. They believe teachers need to do more and fault us when children don’t learn. Sometimes, the opposition I bump up against makes me want to quit, throw in the towel and walk away. But, I don’t. 

I’ve learned that sticking with something, even when it is difficult, only builds up my stamina. Whether competing in a triathlon or teaching a room full of students, the obstacles I encounter are not there to defeat me. Instead, those hindrances are opportunities for me to employ my creativity, wisdom or humor. 

I remember a sign that a spectator held up during one of my races. It said, “And you signed up for this.” 

There is always a bit of fanfare and celebration at any finish line; applause from spectators and sweet relief felt by those who were in the contest. 

Finishing a school year is no different. I’ve found that those parents who gave me the toughest time bring in the best gifts, those reluctant learners give the best hugs, and those quiet ones you wonder if you’ve impacted at all pay the sweetest compliments. 

Why bother crossing the finish line? The reward at the end of the race is worth every ounce of effort put forth to get there. 

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