Today is the 163rd and final day of the 2017-2018 academic year for students of the Southern Boone County School District. I had the honor of working 136 of those days, (83.4% of the school year to be exact), as a substitute teacher at our award-winning primary school, in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. If that percentage seems high, that’s because it is.

Travis Naughton

The reason I subbed so much is because five teachers took maternity leave this school year, and I was lucky enough to work for three of them. In fact, a total of six babies were born to primary school employees in the last twelve-and-a-half months, and another is on the way.

Is there something in the water in the primary building? If so, the elementary school must be affected as well because several teachers employed there have given birth in the last couple years, too. Perhaps the image of the SoBoCo Eagle that adorns the nearby water tower should be replaced by one of a SoBoCo Stork.

The new logo could depict a stork carrying a bundle in its bill, but instead of an infant it would contain a football, basketball, softball, etc., depending on the sport.

“Let’s go, Storks!” At football games, from my perch in the press box, I would shout into the public-address system, “First down; S-T-O,” and the crowd would yell, “R-K-S!”

On second thought, I can already hear taunts such as, “The Storks are dorks!” and “Your mascot belongs on a jar of Vlasic pickles!” coming from opposing teams’ fans. Never mind.

Perhaps the reason for the grade school teacher baby boom is simply that the educators who come to work in our district because of its exemplary reputation want to raise children here for the same reason.

Regardless, I am happy for my friends/co-workers who have experienced the joy of becoming mothers this year. I am especially thrilled for the four who became first-time mommies. Their journeys to motherhood were not easy. Each of them experienced difficulties before ultimately being blessed with beautiful, healthy babies.

Right now, I would like to say a few words to each of these amazing women, in the order in which they gave birth.

Monica, it is an absolute delight to witness how much you love your children. Your smile, when you talk about your boys, proves that there is nothing more beautiful on this earth than an adoring mother. Thank you for being you.

Emily, thank you for…everything. Thank you for asking me to conduct your wedding ceremony. Thank you for allowing me to share your class for the first month of the school year while you stayed home with that sweet baby of yours. Thank you for always making me feel like a member of the second grade team. And thank you for always being there for me when I’ve needed a friend.

Bree, I can never repay you for letting me teach Art while you were home with your baby girl. For those three months, I felt like a “real” teacher for the first time in my six-years of subbing. You’ll never know how much that gift meant to me. Thank you.

Christina, you are Wonder Woman. Teaching first grade, being a paramedic, coaching the cheerleading squads, domesticating the head football coach, AND becoming a new mom?! Is there anything you can’t do?

Kristin, you and I have been through so much together. We bonded during our first year of teaching and have shared a great deal over the years since. Through all the laughter and tears, I am so glad our paths crossed. I hope to always have a place in your heart, as you will always have a place in mine. Give that baby a big hug from his Uncle Travis.

Rachel, you are smart, hilarious, tough, hilarious, caring, and hilarious. In other words, you’re going to be a great mom. I am so happy for you and your growing family. Thank you for letting me finish the school year for you. It has been my pleasure.

Have a great summer vacation, everyone. And if for some reason you find yourself in the primary school, remember: don’t drink the water.