We walked in, past the main office and the gym, and we turned left toward my classroom.
I remember that Mike didn't leave me at the door. He certainly could have. My teacher was there greeting us as we came in. Instead he followed me in. He led me to my cubby and helped me hang up my backpack. He made sure I was all set before leaving me in that new environment. When he left, I didn't feel so alone.
I'm holding that story with me as I set my alarm for 6:30 a.m. and prepare for the first day of school tomorrow, despite the fact that my position is quite different now.
I want to hold onto that little girl who took strength and encouragement from someone taking a few minutes to show her that he cared. I hope she reminds me to smile, to be alright with people taking the time that they need to get adjusted, and to start establishing those personal relationships from moment one.
Luckily, I'll have this baked oatmeal to fuel me through. Sliced plums and mixed berries are layered on the bottom and toasted walnuts are mixed throughout. The oatmeal is only ever-so-slightly sweetened, so all the individual flavors of the ingredients shine through.
I baked up a big batch of it right before I was due back to work. It reheats easily in the morning, and it gives me the energy I need to get through the day.
Tomorrow morning when I dig in, I'll think about that little girl stepping off the bus to someone making her feel safe and at home. I want to give my students that same experience.
Baked Oatmeal with Mixed Berries and Plums
recipe adapted from Lottie + Doof
This recipe will provide six large portions, perfect to provide me with breakfast for the week. Feel free to experiment with different types of fruit or with different kinds of milk (I'm experimenting with a cow's milk-free kitchen, hence the almond milk!).
2 cups berries (I used mixed, frozen berries, but fresh would also be good; smaller is better, so if you're using strawberries, slice them up! I threw my berries in frozen, and they cooked up beautifully--no need to defrost!)
3 medium plums, sliced
2 cups old-fashioned (rolled) oats
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped, divided into 1/2 cup servings
1/3 cup natural cane sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups almond milk
1 large egg
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8-inch baking dish. Layer sliced plums in the bottom of the dish. Top with mixed berries.
In a medium bowl, combine oats, 1/2 cup walnuts, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix well, and pour the dry ingredients over the fruit.
In the now-empty bowl, combine almond milk, egg, butter and vanilla, and whisk well.
Pour the milk mixture carefully over the oat mixture. Swirl the baking dish gently to ensure that the milk coats all the oats. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts.
Bake for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the oat mixture appears solid. Remove the dish from the oven, and allow the oatmeal to cool for a few minutes. Serve warm.