is like crying a rainbow of feeling
and hoping no.
Wanting to stay
is like finding a cloud that's been emptied
with nowhere to go.
But looking away
is tearing a smile from the face of a rose
and holding its thorn.
Having just ended my thirty-second year teaching, I can honestly say I've seen many people come and go. Generally, we hug and say goodbye, let's keep in touch, I've loved working with you, I'm jealous (when the departure is for retirement), and other platitudes.
This year saying goodbye to departing colleagues differs from many previous years. So I'm dedicating this post to my departing colleagues.
Ann Akers has been Highland's media specialist for more than 25 years. We met when I began spending much time in the library during my first year at Highland. The school was crowded, and I had to abandon my room for another teacher to use.
Most of my colleagues don't know the contributions Ann has made, nor do they realize how innovative she was in the early days of technology in schools. Ann was the first librarian in our district to hav a web page; she anticipated the move from print journals to data bases long before her peers. She sold candy from a cart to raise money for comfortable tables, chairs, computer carts, and sturdy book shelves. Ann did her best to purchase books students requested, movies and other resources teachers requested, all without any raise in her per-student budget. Ann bought Highland's first library computers with money she raised from candy sales.
The past two years, after our district fired all but the high school media specialists, Ann supervised six other school libraries in addition to performing her duties at Highland.
Ann is an Army vet and a consumate professional. She has been my very good friend for many years. She is my shopping buddy, my confidant, the bearer of my burdens, both professional and personal. Now she is leaving Highland and moving to Florida. My limited vocabulary prevents me from saying how much I will miss her.
|Ann holding her lifetime Highland activities pass|
Teresa is someone who has given me so much more than I can ever repay. She has taught drama, speech, and sometimes English alongside me. This year I had the pleasure of watching Teresa critique my Poetry Out Loud students. I learned so much about interpretation and directing students just by sitting in the theater for a few hours and listening to Teresa. Additionally, Teresa has served on our Sunshine Committee and was instrumental in implementing the Lionel Bowzer Excellence in Teaching Award two years ago, so named for Highland's first principal, Lionel Bowzer. I was honored to be the first recipient, and I'm sure I owe that honor to Teresa. My goal is to make a small attempt to live up to all the support and praise Teresa has lavished on me over the years. It will be an impossible task, but I will try.
|Teresa surrounded by theater paraphernalia|
|Sue in the pottery room|
|Stan and a pile of papers|
I'm sure I have no clue just how much I've benefited from Todd's support. Additionally, Todd gave up time with his young family to volunteer time during Senior Project Presentation Night. I'm so grateful for the short amount of time Todd has been my colleague. He makes me smile and reminds me why I became a teacher.
|Todd packing up his office|
|Kim in her classroom|
I'm motivated by teachers new to the profession. They keep me focused and intent on improving my practice. A single mom who is devoted to students should not be caught in the cross-hairs of budget cuts, nor should students have to suffer huge classes where they get little individualized instruction. I worry that a promising career has grounded to a halt because when someone like Angie has occupational options, we certainly can't blame her if she returns to the sure thing. I'm still holding out hope that something will change and I'll see Angie's smiling face when I return to school in the fall.
|Angie in her room|
We have a few old mouth-to-mouth tales, we exhume from old trunks and boxes and drawers letters without salutation or signature, in which men and women who once lived and breathed are now merely initials or nicknames out of some now incomprehensible affection which sound to us like Sanskrit or Chocktaw; we see dimly people, the people in whose living blood and seed we ourselves lay dormant and waiting, in this shadowy attenuation of time possessing now heroic proportions, performing their acts of simple passion and simple violence, impervious to time and inexplicable...
From 1967-1978 Carol Burnett ended her weekly variety show with a song, the lyrics of which seem particularly appropriate as we say goodbye to our retiring colleagues, those moving to new geographic and occupational locations, and those traveling across town to new classroom jobs: "I'm so glad we had this time together, just to share a laugh or sing a song. Seems we just get started, and before you know it, comes the time we have to say so long."
So long departing Highland colleagues, confidants, companions, friends. I will miss you and the stories we created working together.