Cleaning house…or a classroom!

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on

I swear that every year, at the end of the school year, I clean up my cupboards and desk before I leave for the summer. At least, I think I do this…but this year I discovered that I may not have been quite as thorough as I imagined!

This year is different because I plan to retire this spring. That means none of my stuff should be left in the cupboards and desks to make some bright, young teacher wonder about me. The trouble is, the more I dig through things, the more I’m beginning to wonder about me.

One cupboard was where I kept my cleaning supplies. I admit it, I normally come in the fall and automatically bring an entire range of cleaning products without checking to see what’s already there. When I began setting out all the cleaning items in that cupboard, I discovered I have enough product to clean the moon and several stars, although some of the wipes and spray are so old that they are kind of dry…okay, they are as dry as the moon as well!

When I dug behind them, I discovered that I had a huge supply of paper products. I have enough napkins, Kleenex, cups, paper plates, etc., to supply a small nation. What do you do with fourteen opened packages of cups, plates and napkins? I’d tell you what I did, but it would require me making a confession that environmentalists would not care to hear!

I enjoyed going through the books the most. I discovered that about half of the single titles in the stacks in the cupboard had my name in them. Some of them are books I have looked everywhere for at home, while others have not been missed and so will doubtless be donated to some library where they can wonder what to do with them! The rest I’ll take home and shelve next to the new copy I bought of them because I thought I’d lost them!

I sorted through a mountain of construction, card and other colored paper that has somehow landed in my room as my students worked on projects over the years. Index cards cropped up from pretty much every drawer and there aren’t enough recipes in the world to fill them. I also found enough envelopes with the school’s return address on them to send a personal letter to everyone with whom I ever came in contact and have some left over. My only comfort here is that with this amount of paper supply, the school should be able to cross off those supplies on next year’s budget. I’ve got it covered!

It was when I began going through desk drawers that I found the things of most personal regard. My desk is a big, old wooden number with deep drawers and tunneling to the bottom of those was interesting…or maybe disturbing. I found that I had three lighters and a box of matches—we’re not allowed to have candles, so I don’t quite know what they were for. I found three tape measures, two spools of white thread and an old film canister full of needles. Perhaps I could take up dressmaking in my retirement years!

Then there was the silverware. I unearthed no less than 18 forks brought to eat luncheon leftovers and then crammed in the drawers—no, I don’t know why! I also found the other half of my set of white-handled spoons and two perfectly good steak knives. My silverware drawers at home will be overwhelmed!

Amongst the half empty bags of cough drops and outdated bottles of aspirin, I found a set of feminine products that I haven’t needed for 15 years. I donated that to the trash can.  At the very bottom of the drawer were two cans of pears…one of them outdated and the other not. Obviously, I intended to use the spoons to eat them, I just don’t know when.

My desks and cupboards are pretty clean now, so I won’t be leaving any mysteries behind for the new teacher in this classroom. However, I’ve just realized that I have several shelves in the room that I need to sort through…I’m not sure I want to leave things behind like my bust of Shakespeare, which might make sense to a new English teacher…but I know I don’t want to leave my statues of Santa Claus and the goat behind—it would leave a certain amount of questions! 25 years sure goes fast!


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