kenia: senior.

Just five years ago, Kenia was a student in my 8th grade language arts class. She loved reading fan fiction and despised reading Animal Farm (I’m fairly certain she’s still mad at me that I made her read it). She was and is one of my favorite students of all time (but shhhh…don’t tell anyone. I’m not supposed to have favorites). Her maturity, thoughfulness, and joy have reminded me over and over again why I chose to be a teacher.

Now, she is a senior, and I can barely believe it. She is bright and hard working, and I secretely love any time she asks for help or lets me look over her high school English papers. She keeps me up to date on all the high school drama, and I feel so grateful that for whatever reason, she has let me be a small part of her story for these last five years.

Whatever this next year brings her way, I have no doubt that she will continue to bring light and joy everywhere she goes. I cannot wait for May 24th when she walks across that stage. I’m convinced there won’t be a prouder teacher in the place.


touraya: senior.

Fewer things bring my heart more joy than watching my former students thrive after the awkward years of middle school. I don't think I've ever heard any adult say, "You know what time in my life I really loved? Middle school." The fact that they make it through relatively unscathed is a testament to us all. 

I feel extra fortunate when those same students stay in touch, send emails, and drop by my classroom every once in a while. They are living and breathing reminders that one day the lightbulb comes on and things click and their middle school selves mature into young adults who make this world a better place. 

Enter Touraya. Once upon a time she was a sassy 8th grader with a definite soft side, but an extra dose of opinions. I adored her and her sisters (who I also had the privilege of teaching), and now, what do you know, she's the student body president and a beautiful young woman. 

I've loved staying in touch with her over the years, and it was even more of an honor to be able to take her senior photos. She is full of light and so much promise, and I feel grateful that I was a very small part of her story.

College is coming and the future feels uncertain, but one thing I know for sure is this girl is going places. She's still got that middle school sass, and there isn't anything or anyone who will stand in her way.

I also feel it is worthwhile to note that I never looked this good in my senior photos. The framed photo on my parents' wall is proof enough. Just look for the girl with the straight face, white wool sweater turtleneck, and teal eyeshadow. It's not pretty.

{sidenote: Touraya brought her friend Reilly along for some pictures, and I couldn't help but include them. Aren't they adorable?}


ashley: senior (graduation).

Back in November, I had the privilege of taking senior photos for one of my former students, Ashley. This time around, I was able to watch her graduate (How did my first group of students graduate high school already?), feel prouder than ever, and then snap some photos of her to commemorate such a big day.

Ashley is such an amazing young woman, and I have no doubt that she will accomplish anything and everything she sets her mind to. This fall she will be starting at the University of Northern Colorado, and I hope she lets her old teacher come visit sometime:) 

Ashley, you are beautiful, inside and out. I can't wait to get a front row seat to all the good things coming in your future.


ashley chavez: senior.

Six years ago I started my teaching career with a bunch of crazy 6th and 7th graders in Aurora, Colorado. Those were some interesting days to say the least. I definitely shed my fair share of tears and worked way too hard during that year, but I also met some very special kids who will have my heart forever.

One of those middle schoolers was none other than Ashley Chavez. Since the first day I met her in my 6th grade Language Arts class, she has never ceased to amaze me. Her kind spirit, positive outlook, willingness to try new things, and deep care and concern for the people around her has been such a source of encouragement and joy to me. Teaching is a hard job, but it is students like Ashley who make it all worth it.

I feel so honored to have kept in touch with her for these last six years and watch her become the beautiful young woman she is today. I can't even believe she is going to graduate high school this year, but you better believe I will be there with the biggest smile on my face as I watch her walk across that stage.

Ashley, you are gorgeous, inside and out. The world is wide open for you, and I have no doubt that you will be successful no matter what you pursue. And if you ever need anything, remember that Miss DeVries always has your back.