The School that We Built


There is a school in a quaint little town, nearby the sea. This is a school that was built, brick by brick, quite traditionally; contractors, masons, hours upon hours, days upon days, piece by piece.

Here is a picture of the school in the town by the sea. These are the bricks that make up the walls, these are the windows set into the walls, there are the trees surrounding the building.

This is the mom who writes all the words, to honor more people, who still “build the school” each year.

This is the school that we built. These are the windows set into the school that we built. These are the windows that, once upon a time in April, May, and June, would be flung open, with laughter and lessons spilling from all the rooms. These are the windows that have remained closed, laughter and lessons in distant repose.

There is the staff that cares for the school, takes care of the fields, and scours all the rooms. There is the staff that answers the phones, walks through empty doors and hopes to see everyone soon.

These are the doors that welcomed my kids for fifteen years in succession. These are the people that opened those doors and accepted and loved without questions. This is the mom who cries salty tears, whose last kid won’t open those doors come next year.

These are the principals who welcome us in; parents, community, all of the children. These are the people who await the new year to begin.

These are the parents who come to volunteer; the book fairs and box tops, Art History each year. These are the parents who drive in a line, to wave to the teachers, saying goodbye.

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These are the teachers who stand in a line, outside of those doors, set into the school that we built. These are the teachers whose hearts are in those empty rooms, with St. Patrick’s Day boards, a year that ended too soon.

These are the teachers who kept things all normal, established a schedule and made “tomorrow” meaningful. These are the teachers who connected with students, who sat face to face, who read and who taught, and never once thought of the “why.” These are the teachers who knew we needed each other.

These are the signs held up by the teachers who stand in a line outside of the school that we built. They read “Have a Great Summer” and “You Did It! With love from your Teachers” with smiles and waves and music from speakers. “We will miss you Grade 6, You’re the Best” held up by a teacher standing in front of the rest.

Here are the tears that slide down my face. I’m unable to stop as I follow the pace.

These are the cars that go in a line, passing the teachers waving goodbye. This is the hand that waves the goodbyes to the teachers we cannot hug standing in line.

These are the parents who are driving the cars, with children all waving; with smiles and sighs, wondering why it’s so hard to say these goodbyes. These are the children moving on next year, a new set of doors, a new atmosphere.

These are the tears still falling from my eyes, as I drive in the car with my son saying goodbyes.

This is the school that holds all the teachers, the laughter and lessons and a lot of life’s meaning. Some may say, it’s only walls, some bricks and a roof. But I know it’s more, and I know the proof.

Here are the people, their love and compassion, that fill up those rooms where amazing things happen. Here are the stories, the challenges, the friends. Here’s where there are more beginnings than ends.

This is the school, this is the community that we have built.




3 thoughts on “The School that We Built

  1. Oh Gretchen, you caught the moment so beautifully! As we left the bus loop and the tears streamed down my face, I said to Emily that Mrs. Mulroy was on my mind and heart. You had to say good-bye to the school where all three of your children have spent their years from kindergarten. It was hard enough for me to say good-bye after 5 years so I cannot fathom 15 years. I hope you felt all the hugs of the moms driving around the loop!


  2. Pingback: The Apartment Where Clare and Sean Live | Gretchen L. Mulroy

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