I had been wracking my brain all summer for the right way to say goodbye to the BSP students. The idea hit me as most great ideas do – unexpectedly. I had been cleaning my house and came across the sheet music for a song that I wrote during my first year at LearningWorks called “Forever Yours.” This music and the story behind it embody everything about Breakthrough that I love. And I knew that sharing the story and the song would be the perfect way to say goodbye to my students.
Here is how I put it to my Breakthrough students in ASM today:
“Those of you who know my story know that I first got involved with the Breakthrough model eight years ago. And some of you know that I first was an aspiring teacher in the Breakthrough program in Minneapolis, which is called LearningWorks. It was the summer of 2001, and I was a college freshman at the University of Minnesota. The seventh graders here would have been only three or four years old.
So if you do the math, that means I’ve had eight years of participating in ASM. If you estimate about 30 ASM’s per summer, that means I’ve been to 240 of them. And this is my last one (at least for now).
These next couple of days are going to be filled with a lot of craziness in preparation for Celebration. You’ll be rehearsing acts, making decorations, rehearsing acts again, finishing portfolios, and more. And because of all that, I wanted to take this last ASM as an opportunity to say a more personal good bye to you students now.
I want to do so by sharing with you a song that I wrote when I was in my first summer at LearningWorks in 2001. But first a little background. While I love to sing and play piano, I am by no means a talented musician and especially not a talented songwriter. While I dream of writing that catchy song that is perfect for the moment, I usually fall short and never complete it. I’ve got notebooks filled with one verse songs. I still am very shy about sharing these with people because I’m really self-conscious and nervous about what they might think.
But in 2001, I came to a Breakthrough program, and I found a place that really valued risk taking and that created a safe place to challenge yourself and to grow. I saw it happening every day in ASM, in classes, in YO Time, and more. After a summer of experiences, I dared to try and put to music and lyrics what I felt. And even more daring, I asked two students of mine to work with me on it and to sing it at Celebration. It was a risk for all of us; for the students because they had never sung in front of a group; for me because I had never accompanied someone, let alone written the piece myself. Seriously, this was an incredible risk for me. But it turned out wonderfully, and even though I’m still sometimes critical of the song, that’s not important.
Because this song is a symbol for me about what BSP is about. It is about having the courage to look for challenges in life and to see them as opportunities for growth. Where you say “yes” to getting up in front of ASM because it is hard. Where you say “yes” to leading Celebration because it is hard. Where you say “yes” to getting your portfolios done because it’s hard. Where you say “yes” to starting up a Breakthrough program because it’s hard. Because in the end, it is the hard that makes it good.
So as I play this song, listen to the lyrics, listen to the melody, but more important listen to the story behind it. And let it be what you remember as we say goodbye.”
The Lyrics to “Forever Yours”
Tonight we celebrate a summer
Of building friendships and chasing dreams.
And we welcome a new chance to remember
That endings aren’t always what they seem.
‘Cause we’ve had good times together
Each and every day.
And though the winds of life have changed.
You know I’ll always stay
Even though tonight we might have to say goodbye.
I’ll keep your face and memories alive.
And soon enough they’ll see
What true friends you’ve been to me
I will miss you.