This year’s journey is winding down. I think in terms of school years with the new year starting in August, not January. Reflecting back, this academic year has been different in so many ways. I’m back in the classroom after 14 years on the sidelines, happily returning to the daily work of facilitating the creative process with young people. Learning about and using technology/social media that didn’t exist back in 1999. Discovering new challenges working in a secondary alternative school vs. a “regular” school setting. One of the biggest learnings for me this year has occurred while moving through the sense of grief that comes with students transitioning. Doing school with only the most at risk kids means developing relationships with students aged 10-21 who are much more likely to come and go quickly, because of a variety of factors; Coping with constant changes in our student population due to behavior issues, dropping out, moving, prison, changes in mental health status, foster care placements, chronic absenteeism, accidental death, gangs or apathy just to name a few. Drop out prevention and transitioning are not new to me at all, it’s been a big part of all of my previous job descriptions. However, the grief left behind when we “lose” a kid in the process feels so much more intense here.