On August 18, 1980, I started my career as a high school English teacher.
On August 11, 2014, I will begin my last year as a high school English teacher.
Although I'm excited about the future of not having to work, I'm also feeling more than a little uncertain and also sad at what I'm leaving behind.
At my first teaching job, I was hired two days after all the other teachers started their planning week. I felt excited, nervous and very out of place. I actually cried on the way home from work because I was in a job that I felt was over my head, working with people who had so much experience and were much more intelligent than I was. I was lucky that those really smart teachers helped and shared with me to keep me one chapter ahead of the students and to fool the students and parents into thinking that I knew what I was doing.
Much in my personal life has changed over those 34 years. I had three children, one with special needs. I divorced after 22 years and married again 3 years ago. I moved to a new city and started a new teaching position after 25 years of security at my old school. I am raising my granddaughter because of bad choices her parents made.
During all of these changes over all of these years, my title of teacher has been the one constant. I am forever thankful that I chose this profession. It allowed me to interact with some truly awesome young people, to see the ones in charge of our planet's future, and to be an integral part of their lives for a short time.
This career has also shown me the bitter side of life -- abuse, abandonment, neglect, apathy, etc. Some days, the negative seems to outweigh the positive, and I am at a loss as to how to help these children. School is so much more than just a place where kids learn from a textbook; it's a place where they display the training, or lack of training, they receive at home, the problems they experience in and out of school, and the frustration they feel because they can't change what's happening to them.
I have several goals for this last year that I hope I can achieve. I will laugh every day, which is an easy goal to master since I frequently find humor in myself. I will try to cherish each day of a lesson instead of looking at the whole unit or getting everything finished because the grading period is almost over. I will try to be more patient, knowing that I will not have the opportunity to help these students again.
I will not cry when my career is over in 42 weeks, 2 days and 13 hours. It's been a fine one, and I've found great satisfaction. I will move on to the next chapter, one in which I hope to still be of value.
My husband says that when your hair becomes white, you become invisible to those around you. I will continue to color my hair.