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.
(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)