Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Fare Thee Well

Breaking down shelves for the move...
Carload after carload of stuff...

Today I signed my contract at a new elementary school. The whole process of job hunting and putting myself "out there" was extremely daunting. Here are nine things that I will miss most about Rucker Elementary, my school during the past 13 years:

1.     THE STUDENTS: I have met so many wonderful kids during my years at Rucker. I have had
        classrooms full of amazing little people who have inspired me daily. Many have faced the
        challenge of learning a second language boldly, head on. Being bilingual requires enormous
        courage. Often there is failure and embarrassment. I have watched kids charge in, and make
        English their own.

2.     THE COLLEAGUES: I mean the people who care more about the kids than they do about
        themselves. There are many teachers who spend each day selflessly giving their best effort.
        Sometimes the only recognition received is from students.  Kids know how hard you work to
        make it all happen, and what you do matters to them the most.

3.     MY COMMUTE: I drove over a winding mountain road each day, spending about 1 1/2 hours
        in my car. It was a lovely drive, and often it helped me to unwind after stressful
        meetings. On some afternoons, it seemed like the anecdote to frustration, especially when I
        carpooled with Jill and Sergio.  And, when I discovered audio books.

4.     MY CLASSROOMS: I was in five different classrooms during my years at Rucker. I really liked
        the ones with the sinks the best! But, I learned that hauling water builds character.

5.     THE LEARNERS: Here's to the kids that never lose their curiosity or sparkle, no matter how
        many grammar lessons they endure, or how much sentence diagramming they do.

6.     THE CHALLENGE: Many years, because of the way our school is set up, I faced uphill
        battles. I learned how to dig in and try my hardest, when that was all I could do. I learned to feel
        encouraged with even minor successes.

7.     THE PARENTS: I listened to Ricardo's mom explain her morning routine in Spanish, during a
        conference. She said that she makes her children stand at the front door, before they leave for
        the bus. She asks each child, "What will you do specifically, today, to be a better person than you
        were yesterday?"  I have met so many parents like this. They take what they're doing seriously.
        They are making and molding young people. It has been extremely gratifying to listen to many
        of these conversations in Spanish, and to feel the earnestness that transcends language barriers.
8.     THE LANDSCAPE: Each day at recess duty was a treat, because of the lovely fields and hills
        that were a part of the neighborhood of the school. It was delightful to observe crop rotation, and
        to see the fields plowed and harvested each season. On some days, it felt like tonic!

9.     THE CRUSADERS: Those people who understand fairness and equality of opportunity. They
        strive to provide a quality education for all students, not just those who are ready or able to learn.

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