For more than three decades, Cheryl Myers has said goodbye to her kindergarteners in late spring and wished them well before they've headed off to first grade.
Even though they've escaped her watchful eye, she has kept track of them from afar as they navigated five more years of elementary school at Clearview Avenue. Occasionally, teachers have sent them back to Myers for pep talks and disciplinary reminders.
But this year, Myers will say goodbye for good as they leave Clearview for points unknown.
"The last week of school they usually start asking, 'Will I see you next year?' " Myers said. Usually what I say is, 'I won't be in first grade with you, but I'll see you in the hallway.'
"Next year, they'll be at a new school with new friends. And I won't be there with them."
Unsure of how much their parents have told them about Clearview's closing, she has avoided the subject. "It's been very stressful," Myers said. "I want to know where my children are going next year. I want to know about myself, what's going to happen to me."
Like most teachers at schools that are closing, Myers will go to a district job fair in June to look for another position. She'd like to remain a kindergarten teacher, someplace closer to her home in Largo. At 59, she's a little worried about starting over.
But working at a newly built school isn't high on her list of priorities. She has grown accustomed to the minor discomforts of a structure built more than 70 years ago. If she had to, Myers could even do without air conditioning, as she did at the start of her career.
"We worked with what we had and were grateful for it," she said. "We would go to meetings at other, newer schools and look around and say, 'We're doing much better than they are with their new things.' "