Sunday, June 23, 2013

12 seconds

It has been a roller coaster kind of week.  When we volunteered to be displaced from our school, we were led to believe that there would be some sort of fair, orderly process in which new jobs would be offered.  We were led to believe that they would be offered in order of seniority, and since I have 25 years in the system, I would have been very near the top of the list.  But that is not what transpired.  Some of my former co-workers were placed on Tuesday.  They had many years less than me, and we assumed that maybe HR was going in alphabetical order.

Things continued on Wednesday shooting down the alphabetical order theory, and we waited for "the call".  Finally on Thursday, I called them.

They ticked off the few jobs that were available.  Nothing at the school 4 minutes from my house.  Positions at other poorly rated and alternative schools.  "Thank you, but I would have stayed where I was at...."  Positions at schools 20 and 25 minutes away.  Finally, I hastily selected a position at school A teaching special ed English, even though I prefer Math .  I called the principal and scheduled a meeting for that afternoon.  The meeting with the principal revealed that I would be teaching both regular and special ed English AND a regular section of Science.  I toured the school and he gave me keys to my room.

Sometimes the placing of displaced teachers is little more than a blind date.  Unfortunately it is often difficult to call of the relationship once you've agreed to the date.  But the more I thought of the requirements for this job, the more my un-ease increased.  I had prayed to know the "right job" when it appeared, but had no particular insight when I was offered choices.  I had done the best I could with the information given me.     I am used to teaching small groups of children...the thought of having classes of 25 was overwhelming. And Science....I would have been learning it along with the students.

Perhaps God thought it was "Opposite Day".   As Friday dawned bright and sunny, I realized that remaining in the job I had selected would be an injustice for everyone involved. I had picked the wrong job - not the right one!  One of the jobs I had passed over because it was a little further from my house was a "Mild/Moderate" class.  This was really what I wanted.  Your stereotypical "special ed" class.  I dropped my son off for his 7 a.m. driver's ed  class and then plotted my next move.

I texted my former principal who had spent the last semester at "School B".  No answer.  I texted my supervisor to see if she knew anything of the job 4 minutes from my house.  The job that was not yet open.  No answer.  I pulled up School B on my ipad and emailed the principal.  I tried calling.  No answer.  Finally, I put the address into my GPS and hit the road.  It was a 25 minute or so drive.  I arrived at a school in the middle of nowhere.

The architecture reminded me a little of the high school I had attended.  There were 2 cars in the parking lot, so I parked and made my way to the office.  Birds were chirping and I noted neglected box gardens in the front of the school.   Eventually, I met up with the principal and another staff member.  "Are you looking for a report card?" they asked.  "No, actually a job."  "Are you Karen?"  He had gotten my email and had already called HR to find out if the job that I was seeking was still open. (No answer for him, either.)  We chatted for a few minutes, and I left feeling like it would be a good match.

It took me until early afternoon to find someone at HR to reverse my decision, so that I could return the keys to school A.  In the meantime I talked to a few more people who affirmed my choice, so that was good.  Now I have that peace that this is the "right job".  All the pieces line up.  Good principal.  Good supervisor (so says a much-loved supervisor that I had years ago.)  The type of class that I wanted in a "quiet school".   I will trust that God has His reasons for wanting me to travel the 20 or 30 minutes each way, instead of 4.

After all was said and done, just for fun, I googled and mapquested to find the nearest Catholic Church.  Spending time in the empty church near my old school is something I have enjoyed in the mornings before school starts.  I put in the addresses and the result came back....12 seconds.  The church is 12 seconds from the school.  Not 11.  Not 13.  I had to laugh at the exactness of the answer.  Thank you Lord, for answered prayers.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


 It's been a few weeks since I locked the door for the last time and left the keys in my box.

Twenty-four years worth of stuff sorted through, purged, and packed.  We relived a few memories along the way of kids who had come and gone.  We made many trips to the dumpster.  We hugged some kids and wiped away a little snot the last day of school.  Some of them loved us...

This is the sign that was on my door for the last few weeks of school.  One afternoon, the bathroom, the copy machine and the coke machine all had Out of Order signs on them.  I decided to join them, and trust was v.e.r.y out of order in my room!

The days at the end were bittersweet.  I have loved the people I've worked with.  I've loved my cozy room.  I've even loved the kids.  But in the end, it was mostly relief that I felt.  We had a deadline of 9 pm on our last workday to have everything out, and we made it with hours to spare.  The later it got, the more we threw in the garbage can.  When the room started to echo, I knew that we were close.  

This was my corner of the room.  I took pictures when we were finished, but for some reason, none of them came out.  A friend took these for me a few days later, and my desk has been pushed against the wall and the student desks pushed to the other side.  The red cabinet door - a previous owner had painted them, and I thought the red was awful.  So we kept them covered with blue paper.  

The view from my desk.  I will miss my Promethean board.  

The side with my assistant's desk, the kids' desks, and the computers.  

The view outside my door.  Unique architecture for a school, but I always thought it was pretty.  Our custodians kept it nicely landscaped and clean.

I have defined "done" in different ways...the empty room, the boxes stacked in my garage, the pile of clothes that I won't wear in public again...

They say when one door closes, another opens, and I am looking forward to that.  I have had one interview, but hiring is frozen in our system right now.  Some teachers are waiting to retire/resign, so it is hard to get an accurate picture of what is available.  

The last five weeks of the school year - when I knew that I didn't have to go back - were the best ones of the entire year.  It feels great not to be stressed and to be able to turn my head without pain.  I feel for the people who chose to stay.  

In the end, I packed what I wanted and disposed of the rest.  But the most important things that I took didn't fit in a box.  Each and every person that I worked with touched my life in some way...and that is the real treasure of what I took away.