I remember taking our first son to kindergarten, doing the math in my head, and realizing we’d be at this elementary school for the next 11 years. We would have 11 years of driving our boys there and back. 11 years of volunteering in their classes, and helping with class parties. 11 years seemed like a long time back then.

Those 11 years are coming to an end this week, as our youngest son finishes 5th grade tomorrow. Looking back, our years at Meadowlark Elementary are filled with some of my favorite memories of my kids’ childhoods. Their teachers have been amazing. Oh, how thankful I am for their teachers. They are worth mentioning by name: Mrs. Humphrey, Mrs. Fusby, Mrs. Richardson, Miss Bierman, Mrs. Longshore, Miss Nightingale, Mrs. Bennett, Mrs. Harshbarger, Mrs. McLaughlin, Mrs. Carnahan, and Mr. Seeba. You’ve spent every day with my kids, teaching them not only the benchmarks of each grade level, but the importance of being the best they can be. You’ve used your many gifts and talents, and money from your own pockets, to change the world for the better—one child at a time. I’m so thankful my children were in your classrooms.

I remember the phone calls I received when one of our boys was hurt at recess, and could I come right away and take him to the doctor? Or the times they needed new clothes or shoes when they slipped and fell in the mud, or spilled milk all over themselves at lunch. I remember one of our sons developing a seizure disorder in 1st grade, and I was scared to let him out of my sight. Our school nurse and team of teachers took the time to talk with me and come up with a plan. It has truly felt like a family at Meadowlark.

But kids grow up, and they outgrow elementary school. It’s what’s supposed to happen, I get that. But it’s hardest when your youngest grows up. At least it is for me. He’s ready to move on to middle school, just like my 8th grader is ready to move on to high school. And don’t get me started on our oldest son. Most days he acts like he can’t wait to graduate.

At the very beginning, when we were new kindergarten parents, our principal announced he was retiring at the end of the year. I’ll never forget what he told me on the last day of school. He stopped me in the hallway, looked me in the eyes and said, “Your children will do well during their elementary years because they have involved parents. Keep reading to them, keep communicating with their teachers, and keep helping in the classroom when your schedule allows it. One day it will all be behind you, and you’ll never regret being involved.”

I took his advice, and I don’t have a single regret. All the lunches and snacks I packed, water bottles I filled, planners I signed, field trips I went on, reading groups I helped with—all of that and MUCH more, I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

If you’re just entering this elementary world, or if you’re in the middle of it, keep on keeping on. The school year is almost over. One day it will all be behind you, and you’ll wonder where all the time went. And I promise you, you will never regret being involved.

Sarah Luke

Born and raised in Chicagoland, Sarah now calls Nebraska home. She’s been married for 19 years to Derek, her college sweetheart. They have three sons—one in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary school. She worked as a registered nurse before staying at home full time with the boys. Maybe someday she will go back to nursing, but for now she loves keeping up with her family and enjoying the moments set before her. Swimming and reading are her favorite hobbies, along with boating and camping. She’s quick to point out that she camps in a camper, and leaves the tent camping to Derek and their boys!