…first time since I was five years old…
The crisp cold breeze this morning chants “fall is in the air”! And I know it is. Apples are turning red on our tree. Children are scampering out of their homes and down the street in shiny new duds beaming with hope and happiness for yet another new beginning. School is in! Let the fun begin!
But this year, I am not there.
Yesterday, I delivered a package to a colleague at our district office downtown and found myself in a puddle of tears the moment I opened the door and took in the scent of the familiar “newness” of this no-longer-new building. So much of my identity is wrapped up in my career. The education of young people has been my passion for thirty years. Not just my work, but my hobby, my calling, my life and much more than simply: who I am.
I am a teacher. I stand taller, walk straighter and smile brighter because “I am a teacher”.
GOOD MORNING! and that smile I pasted as wide across my face as it would fit was an important part of my day. I would look deep into the eyes of the young students at our school not just now, at the beginning, but every day with that bright, cheery, warm and welcoming “good morning”! You matter to me. I care about you. It is a gorgeous day. We are together and I will keep you safe. Let the learning begin!
And the learning! Oh, the glory of the learning. The thought and foundation behind the processes and the weaving and integrating that master teachers implement to foster understanding and provide opportunity for learning – and hopefully, the construction of novel ideas! Guiding a child through to understanding and arriving on that horizon of “I can do this” and “I understand this” coupled with the development of the inner confidence one works consistently to develop within those we teach is nothing short of nirvana.
But this morning, I sit, with my morning coffee, much later than I usually sit with my morning coffee.
I feel the fall. I see the red apples on the trees and the streets are now silent as the children have skipped to school. And I am alone. My heart is so full with the opportunities I had over the past thirty years to give and give and give. And I will continue to give. Just not there.
For, I cannot any longer. There is so much I can do, but I can no longer be “there” for each of the now thirty five students in each of the six classes a day. I no longer have the stamina or capacity to do thirty five to fifty things at once. That was the beauty of being the orchestrator within my classroom. I was consistently amazed by what I was able and capable of doing all at once, within a mili-second, still demonstrating value and honour to the students under my care.
I have been struggling with severe asthma and a couple of other accompanying illnesses that I was unfortunate to acquire later in my life. The medications coupled with the side effects of chronic lack of sleep make “going back” impossible to me.
Yet, my heart is there. It will always be there. I have loved school since the first day I stepped into kindergarten at 5 years old and met Mrs. Muldar. How I loved her. And I still have too many stories to tell about her: her scent, her accent, humour, warmth and kindness. Every year just got better. Public education worked for me. It was my home away from home and my welcome to the world. Doors opened. Friendships were made. Accomplishments had and one grand life lived.
But, it is not over. Just shifting. I have never been one to balk at change. I am a seeker, a searcher and one who has consistently worked to create change. This is different. But, it is going to be fine.
I will rock myself in my arms a bit today tenderly mingling through episodes of my life’s work. I will cry. I am crying. But, it was good. Every day there was joy and love and learning. And I was happy.
I am still happy; yet, just working at saying good-bye. And that will take some time. I have the time.
Happy September to all of my colleagues at school looking out at the eager young faces counting on you today! I know you won’t let them down. I have worked shoulder to shoulder with you, and can attest to our shared vision and your passion. My footsteps will no longer be heard clipping down my hall, but others will: many, many others, and many more to come. Septembers will forever signify new beginnings for me.