Thursday, June 11, 2015

7QT: Graduations Galore

My takes are rarely quick, but I will try not to be too verbose this time.  

1.  Last night I had the privilege and delight of heading to Molalla River Academy for their 8th grade graduation.  I had known most the graduating class since they were in 3rd grade when the school first opened its doors, and I had the opportunity--albeit brief--to teach them history when they were 7th graders.  They are a special group, full of heart and hard work.  I don't have any pictures, so anyone reading this who does have some group shots, please send them my way!  My email link is on the sidebar in the stack of orange social media buttons. 
2.  Not only was it great to see the kids who were graduating, I had the delight of seeing quite a few other students I knew.  It was fun to see them (and how much taller they were!) and to wish them well.  
This awesome guy graduated 2 years ago...and I saw him the other night as we applauded his sister for graduating.  Great family!
I was proud of myself for remembering everyone's first and last names!  It was wonderful also to see my former colleagues (although there are obviously several new faces since I left) and parents of students past and present.
June 2011: I *Heart* MRA and especially working with Mr. G (my co-teacher)

3.  It was a really, really healing experience for me.  I taught for September of 2013 and fully intended to go back to being full-time after my 6 week maternity leave.  I made it for all of a week back in November before I realized that I could not go on.  It was too much.  I was barely holding it together; if there weren't kids in the room, I was sobbing.  It eventually got to the point on Friday of that week that I was sobbing while the poor kids WERE in the room.  You can read more of the sad story here. I wasn't doing anything well, and I couldn't keep it up.  So I quit.  

I spent the rest of the school year in hiding and anxiety.  I was afraid to go shopping at the Oregon City Fred Meyer for fear of running into school families there.  Although everyone said they understood my decision, I was sure, just sure that everyone despised me for quitting and abandoning everything and everyone.  I wanted to attend my 8th graders graduation that year, but it was only a few days after my sister's high school graduation in Missouri, and there was no way to be there for both. Again, I felt like a failure.  Couldn't even be there for their graduation...what a horrible excuse for a teacher.  I wrote each student a letter and delivered those (although not during school hours...I was too afraid.)  

With the help of therapy, appropriate medication to treat the depression and anxiety, and a good support system, I was able to overcome much of the shame and fear.  Still, I did feel some nervousness as I drove there on Wednesday night.  What if everyone would shun me?  What if the kids would look at me like the biggest quisling they knew (if they knew what a quisling was, that is)?  

When I arrived, I got so, so, so much love.  Kids, parents, teachers...it was a blessing beyond what I expected.  It felt like the final piece needed to cap off the grieving/healing process and be able to see myself positively in relation to MRA.  I was there from the school's beginning and I gave it my all, whether working full time or part time, for 4 years.  It wasn't a cushy or easy job, but I loved the kids and families and people I worked with.  I made a difference there, and not for the worse.  I think I can say now that the good I did there was not overshadowed by my departure, which is what I had been so ashamed and afraid of.

And golly gee, when I come right down to it, who am I that a school community would come to a screeching halt without me there?  It never revolved around me, and it seems to be doing fabulously well despite my absence. Amazing...I'm not the piece of dirt that the world revolves around, even if that's what my depression was telling me for months. 

Okay, that take was not quick. Moving on.

4.  A couple people told me that they'd heard about possible openings in my old subject areas at school for next year.  As I drove home, I chewed on the idea of what it would be like to try again.  Middle school literacy would be very fun to teach, and my brain started concocting lesson strings and books to read and all of that.  

But if and when I return to teaching (there or anywhere), I want to be all in.  I want to know that I'm not shortchanging my family to give my students what they deserve, and vice versa.  I don't know when that will happen.  Maybe when my kids are in elementary school; maybe not till they are in high school...or even out of the home entirely.  The good news is that there will always be a need for teachers, and I can keep my license up to date without much hassle anymore (thanks to my recent renewal and bumping up to the next level of officialness or whatever).  Education will be waiting for me.  But I'm unwilling to do it (or parenting) poorly.  
Speaking of doing things poorly, both in 2011 and 2014 when I've renewed my license, it was on my birthday (AKA the deadline date). Awesome.
It was awfully nice to hear that some people would have liked to have me back.  Again, a healing moment.

5.  Now, onto the next graduation: on Saturday I'll be attending the 8th grade graduation of kids I taught when they were KINDERGARTENERS and FIRST GRADERS!!! What?  I can hardly believe it.  They were my dear sweet kiddos in Primary East at Arbor.  I was an apprentice, absolutely brand new to the whole practice of teaching.  I worked under a wonderful master teacher and with an amazing faculty.  I just can't go on and on here about the wonders and greatness of Arbor School of Arts and Sciences; trust me, there is nothing quick about that!  So now these kids are getting ready to head to high school, and I get to see them off. 

Our to-scale replica of the world's longest carrot (according to Guinness Book of World Records, naturally)

And as icing on the cake, I was invited to walk in the faculty procession at graduation since I was one of their teachers.  I love that at Arbor the apprentices are not peons.  We were always called and treated as teachers by students, parents, and faculty alike.  Poor Allen isn't extended the same courtesy in his apprenticeship as a carpenter.  Lots of "blame the apprentice" and "oh he's only an apprentice" and "apprentices should know their place" kind of talk there.  

6.  Oh, and how is it possible that I graduated from college 9 years ago, and from high school 13 years ago?  Crazy.  It both feels as long and not as long as that. Okay, high school definitely feels long, long ago...but college feels perennially recent.  I keep being weirded out that 2005 was a decade ago.  
Beautiful alma mater

7.  Last but not least, Ruby "graduated" from her two years of preschool at Redland Montessori today.  

Naturally, the last day of school started off with celebratory donuts for the kids...




And of course it wouldn't have been complete without a farewell picture of the kids with their wonderful teacher, Betsy (and her daughter/their classmate!)


It was a wonderful two years for Ruby at Redland, and I'm so very glad Max got to start up there at the tail end of this year.  He'll be thrilled to return in the fall...and I have a shrewd suspicion that by the end of the summer, I'll be thrilled for him to return, too!  Meanwhile, Ruby goes on to Gladstone kindergarten in the fall.  Kindergarten...it's full circle around here.  Only 9 years ago I was teaching kindergarten; now my daughter is going into it.  Amazing.  

There are my 7 not-so-quick-after-all takes (big surprise, right?).




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