Being the Bridge


I am a bridge. I help people move from Point A to Point B. I’m there when they need to cross territory that is too difficult to cross alone. Or when the gap is too great, I’m there to make the way a little easier. My foundation is strong and I can handle a large amount of passage. After all, that’s what a bridge has to do. It has to be strong. It has to be dependable. It just has to BE there when it’s needed.

As the wife of a youth minister, I fill in the gaps – whatever or whenever those may be. I am a bridge. As a teacher, I help students cross one stage of life into the next. I am a bridge.
I know I’m a bridge, and I love being the bridge. But today, being the bridge SUCKS. Today, I wish I wasn’t the bridge … because today I stay rooted within my foundation and watch my passengers move onto the other side, eventually out of seeing distance…
Today my eighth grade students leave me to go to high school.
Oh, how I wish for once I was the guard rails that continued down the road with them – guiding, watching, cautioning – but still right there along the street. Or maybe I wish I was the striped line in the road – keeping them on the straight and narrow path, protecting them from danger. Heck, I even wish that I could be a passenger – even if it’s one in the backseat! Or a stowaway in the trunk … or the baggage strapped loosely on the roof…
But, no, I am still just the bridge.
I do not always understand why God asked me to love these kids unquestionably for two years only to make me let them go – into that big world of high school without me. I do not understand why every year it just doesn’t get any easier to release them. But I do know that I can’t change the fact that I’m the bridge.
And I guess that’s okay … we all need bridges, however temporary they may be.
COPY OF MY LETTER TO MY EIGHTH GRADERS: 
(Picture me bawling my eyes out as I read this aloud today to my babies … I was actually surprised and touched to see several tear-stained faces looking back at me when I was finished. I love you guys. )
Dear Class of 2013,
I find it difficult to believe that two years has passed and you are now moving on to the crazy and exciting world of high school! I still remember the early days of 7th grade when you walked into my room, just hoping to pass a test on The Outsiders and survive the dreaded thesis essay that ensued. You have come a long way since those days, and it is with bittersweet emotions that I am writing you this letter.

 

You see, something very special happened the day that you entered my classroom … something that nobody outside of our group could ever understand because it was magical and it was meant only for a time… the magic of fifty-something students and one teacher becoming like a family.

 

…Because that is what you are to me and always will be. I remember bonding to you guys faster than I had to any other class before you. I’ve never known a group of students to be so genuinely kind and supportive of one another. When you were little Sevies, I remember telling other teachers how impressed I was that you actually LIKED each other and tried to all be friends. There were times when I would honor a student’s work or input in class and, instead of being jealous and mocking to that student, you guys applauded or encouraged that particular student. I’ve also had several situations over the last two years where one or more of you came to me with concern over each other. It takes a lot of courage and real love for another classmate to approach an adult for help on someone else’s behalf. I am proud of this quality in you and ask that you continue to look out for each other in the future. You don’t know when your intervention can make a real difference in someone’s life.

 

Every group that comes through my classroom not only grows academically, socially, and emotionally, but each group has taught me something important for my own life. Believe it or not, I am always still growing as a teacher and as a person, and I love seeing what each class will teach me about myself. I can honestly say that more than any other class, you guys have made me remember and feel what it was like when I was a teenager. You have made me laugh, cry, yell, blush, and joke right along with you. And it is that quality about you that inspired me to finally sit down and pen a novel celebrating the fun and the drama of being a teenager.

 

I can’t tell you how thankful I am that Phantom Island was released while I still had you in class with me. You have been a support system, a comfort zone, and a cheering squad for one of the greatest risks and adventures of my adult life. And for that, you will always be on this journey with me – in spirit and, hopefully, in person – for whatever comes! Thank you for being such a responsible group of students that I didn’t have to worry about you keeping up with your work. Thank you for putting up with my scatter-brained tendencies this year and for understanding me on the days when I was so tired, I had nothing left to give. Most importantly, thank you for believing in me. You will never know the number of times I wanted to give up on Phantom and you guys kept me going.

 

When we think of our lives as a continuous road, a journey, then we can look back and see where our roads intersect with others. For the last two years, my road has been merged with yours. And we’ve made it through a lot of bumps and potholes, as well as some totally fun, winding and twisty sections. I don’t think any of us can look back at the territory we’ve covered and say that it was a boring trip.

 

But this is where your road continues on without mine. My part in your journey is over now. And as much as that saddens me, it also excites me because I have confidence that each of you is going to go further than you ever imagined.  There is a whole world of possibility ahead of you. I don’t want you to ever give up on your dreams, nor do I want you to ever settle for less than what you are able to do. I know you won’t remember much of what I have taught you in the classroom, but I hope that you do remember to hold high standards for yourself, to make good choices, and to live your life without regrets. If there is one thing I’m learning to love about life it is that I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, I don’t even know if today will be my last … but I do know that every moment counts – including this one. And there’s something enthralling about living each moment as if it could be the last one.

 

So leave my room empowered and excited about your future. Make me proud, but more importantly respect YOURSELF and make choices that YOU can be proud of. Look out for each other – because life is not meant to be lived alone. You actually DO need each other, so don’t let anyone get left behind on your journey together. I love you so very much and will always be a cheerleader on the sidelines of each of your lives. I believe in you and will miss seeing you every day.

 

So please no goodbyes … let’s just leave it with “see ya later” … and then agree to make that a true statement in the future.

 

Much love and prayers, Krissi Dallas (Mrs. D)   


I’m Flying!! Phantom Phantasma!
I’m Flying!!
Phantom Phantasma!

Comments to “Being the Bridge”


  1. Oh Krissi, (i plan on taking full advantage of calling you Krissi, now that I have your permission… even though you will always be Mrs. Dallas in my heart) I was one of those students sitting there and crying along with you. It’s just so hard to let go of you, and Mrs. Tolbert! Oh how i will you guys … and my awesome science teacher. letting you guys go and moving onto high school is such a sad thought. You all have prepared me for high school. But nobody could have prepared me for the sadness i am feeling right now. I am going to miss you so much mrs. dallas. I love you so much! YOU ROCK!!!


  2. My former teachaer, Mrs. Krissi Imman Dallas,
    I believe in these last two years that I have learned so much, not just in my school work but about myself and others. I know now how I should treat other people and to have self control in what I say to people and that I can always come to you if I have problems. I remember seeing you for the first time when you came to the intermeidete school with savannh montgomery and talking about pre-ap ela. I was scared sooo much. I didnt know if I would ever finish the outsiders but the thing that kept me from quiting and going in regular classes was that one day that I saw you the Lord told me that I needed you in my life, even if it was for two years or two hundred years, that you were going to teach me about my life and myself. I remember reading the outsiders and thinking of how scary it would be in middle school. What really scared me is when I failed the outsiders test and you called my mom to see if I actually read it. I had a pit in my stomach, worrying that you were going to kick me out and the Lord wanted us seperated. It broke my heart. Seventh grade year was one of the best years of my life. I remember writing the essays and thinking I was going to fail everytime but I didnt. I also remember wacky wednesday and javahouse friday. I remember seeing you the last day of school with your eighth graders (now going into 10th, they grow up so fast). I remember seeing you sad but never really understood why untill this year, I now realize that you are not just my bridge but many students to come. Then over the summer, Little Women tortured me and I didn’t even want to read it. I was sooo bored. But, the Lord gave me strength and kept reminding me that I would see you again and you would keep being a mentor to me for another year, and hopefully years to come. Then on the last day of school it hit me like a two trains smashing into me at the same time…… sorry it’s hard to type when your crying….. I may never get to have you as my teacher ever again but,… You will always be teaching me something and that these last two years may have been rough on this high way of life, but they have been the best last two years. I thank God that he gave me the courge and strength to make it through your class and have you as one of my close, mentor, sister, aunt, step mom, best friend I can ever ask for. And even though I am moving on to high school without you, you will always be with me in my heart. Thank you! I Love you sooooooo much!
    See you later,
    Love,
    Rachael


  3. Mrs. D,
    I can’t believe these two years have already passed by. It seems like just yesterday when I walked into your room on meet the teacher night before I started 7th grade. I also remember when I was in 6th grade and you came down to the intermediate school to talk to us about pre-ap. I remember being scared of being in your class because I wasn’t sure how it was going to be. I was scared of writing essays (your kind of essays) and having to read different kinds of books because I used to hate to read with a passion. But now as I look back on these two years of being in room 313 I can think of nothing but good memories of spending time with you and everybody else. I have changed alot in these last two years and been through alot. You are a major reason I have changed…I think of you as my role model you are such a good person and I hope when I’m older I will be as good of a person as you. You are a major reason why I want to be a teacher. I want to be a middle school teacher now because I see how much you enjoy it. I hope I can be the same type of teacher as you so the kids I have in my class will feel comfortable talking to me like how I feel complety ok with talking to you about different things. Everything about you is just complety amazing. I have enjoyed getting to know you these last two years and spending time with you because you truly are a great person. Of course it makes me beyond sad to be leaving you and going to high school but it also makes me grateful to know I got my chance to know you and spend two years with you. You mean so much to me and I’m going to miss you more than you probably realize. I may not remember what I learned in your class but I will NEVER forget you! I will miss you so much and I promise I will come and see you when ever I get the chance. The new 8th graders better give you the respect you deserve because you deserve all the respect in the world. :)I love you soooooo very much and you mean so much to me. See ya later
    Love,
    Lucy 🙂


  4. Krissi – reading this post makes me so proud to be your friend. You may or may not ever know the total impact that you have had on these students, but I can see what an amazing impact they have made on you, so I can only imagine how much you have encouraged them. And I love what your Momma wrote: May your eighth graders become bridges like the example you set. That’s my hope and prayer for them too!!

    Keep up the awesome work that you are doing and let me say that I would be THRILLED to have you as a teacher for my own children.


  5. Krissi, I am feeling the same way. If I taught 11th grade or you taught 7th grade where we could follow the kids’ lives a little longer, I don’t think it would be as sad. But mine graduate and move on with their lives, and yours move away to high school. I am assuming it is the same for you, but this group of kiddos were lovely. I had such a good year, and it is a bittersweet ending to the school year.

    You are a good bridge if you care this much. Way to be an influence, not just a teacher.


  6. I just made a ton of typos … Sorry 🙁


  7. Krissi, I don’t personally know how this feels, but I knw that I am a bridge sometimes and that I have had to let go of my reigns before, also. It is a very hard thing to do. First off, I want to thank you for being that bridge in these kid’ lives. Not many teachers truly dedicatthemselves to their students like you do. You truly make a difference and I know that each one of your students would say the same. on’t ever think that you will not be remembered. These kids will look back to you and your example when timesare tough in High School. You have impacted so many lives and I know that thebond that you build just makes things THAT much harder when it is time to say goodbye. But, NEVER LET THAT STOP YOU. You are so involved in people’s lives that I’m sure there are times you are wondering “Why do I even bother with the pain and heartache?” But know that this is something God has given you a gift for and a passion. I know that for me you were a way o get through my freshman year, and you were not even my teacher! I know that these kids have learned so much from you and that that knowledge will carry on with them to High School. It is a totally different world and a different lifestyle that you have to adapt to, but one thing will remain constant in their life, and that is what they think and feel about you. You are a light and an inspiration and I’m so sorry for the sense of loss that you are feeling right now. I love you and I’ll be praying for you.

    -Amelia


  8. There are many bridgs in life that you too will cross..I always felt like the bridge was the faith we had to help us get to the other side to see what God has in store for us! You certainly are the bridge in the lives of so many and You do make a difference. May your eight graders become bridges like the example you have set. Love you, MOM


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