My mother has put her heart and soul into teaching for 35 years, so we knew that, for her retirement party, we had to go big or go home. The theme of the party was easy to come up with, as mom spent the last 10 years of her teaching career raising monarch butterflies to show her students its life cycle and quickly became obsessed with everything monarch.
I wanted the students of her school to be a part of the party, so we were able to have each classroom decorate monarch butterflies of varying shapes and sizes that we used for centerpieces and decorations. The centerpieces were very simple, as we filled Mason jars with green raffia, tied orange ribbon to the top and filled the jar with a few branches. We then cut two small slits in each paper butterfly and attached them to the branches. We then sprinkled other butterflies the students had decorated over each of the tables and used what remained for the walls.
As you can see, we left no butterfly behind and had them EVERYWHERE for the party! Like I said...go big or go home!
We used the stage of the auditorium to display former yearbooks, class pictures, and student work over mom's years of teaching and the screen above for a powerpoint show.
Another big element of the party were stations set up in honor of the other themes that mom had used in her classroom over the years. Each year, her second graders read the book Stone Soup and then brought in ingredients to make it themselves. Each student brought a different ingredient for everyone to enjoy. In homage to this tradition, my sister purchased the adorable bowl below that was decorated by a friend of hers for mom to have as a keepsake.
In addition, we also printed out Stone Soup ingredients and encouraged everyone at the party to chose an ingredient and write down on it what they suggest she should do in her retirement. The pieces will eventually be placed into a scrapbook for mom to keep, along with some of the other souvenirs from her party.
A second station we included gave guests the opportunity to write messages to mom that we would put into her "retirement yearbook," complete with pictures from the Powerpoint show we displayed of mom's teaching career from past to present. The third was a play on the 100th day of school tradition that mom has done for years, in which students place 100 fingerprints onto t-shirts that they wear on (you guessed it!) the 100th day. Each former student in attendance at the party was instructed to place a fingerprint and their name on a t-shirt we had created out of foam board to be proudly displayed for years to come.
My family looooooves the opportunity to use ridiculous props and use them for even more ridiculous photos, so the idea of a photo booth at the party was a no-brainer! My awesomely artistic sister-in-law, Tiffany created a beaver (did I mention my mom was "Mrs. Beaver?"), a bulldog (her school's mascot) and a monarch butterfly out of foam board to use as props!
Photo booth models mom (left) and her sisters Rene (left, center), Rita (right, center) and Julie (right)
A huge congratulations to my amazing mother, who is an incredible educator and human being. She has enriched the lives of many and I know will approach this next chapter of her life with open arms and a tenacity to never stop educating. We love you, mom! Congratulations on your retirement!!!!!