So today is 12 October 2012. Here is a paragraph from an e-mail I sent this morning to a friend who teaches on the college level:
Since June of 1983 I have been a certified teacher in the state of CT, in both regular and special ed. Not tomorrow. Today my certification runs out...and I have let it, knowing I will never again be subjected to the filthy machine that is public education. I have always been a teacher, I will always be a teacher...one day, maybe, I will be called Teacher, but for now, it is enough for me to watch the last gurgle of air leave the sunken ship of that part of my life. Finally, it is over. I am truly free.
In the wake of No Child Left Behind, we have No Teacher Left Standing.
I am proud of the work I did, of the children and families I was able to reach, to help, to encourage and love. I am grateful for the lessons that teaching has taught me as well. Mostly, I am glad of the people I met, the teachers I have known and loved, and the laughter that was, sometimes, all that could sustain us.
Mrs. Savoy was the paraprofessional assigned to my first self-contained class. It was a good year before I could call her by her first name. Our working relationship outlasted my first marriage by a good ten years. Quite an honor to work with such a naturally talented colleague. So lovely to count her among my friends.
Periodically we take out my Hush Puppies shoe box of photographs from the 80s and laugh ourselves breathless at the adventures we shared. We share "Aww"s and happy head-shaking at the children in our care. Carson and Tammy and Kenny...Nicole's wildly infectious laughter...John L and Spig....Adam, and Cary and Sarah, oh, Sarah...and sweet, sweet Laura...their pride in their accomplishments and our tears at their joy. Nothing on Earth like The Best Class Graduation Day.
I regret that I did not teach long enough to work for Mr.Murdzek as he is far and away the best teacher I have ever known, certainly he was, as I have told him so often "The beat principal I never worked for." We met, in fact shared a room, when I was the primary special education teacher and he was a reading paraprofessional for the first grade.
This man built a cardboard yellow submarine and put a video screen up to its porthole. Small groups of first graders could climb aboard, observe the sea creatures shown on the video, and later write about their adventures. I have never seen children so eager to write. Also, since the undersea video ran all morning, different groups saw different creatures,thus adding to the excitement of sharing their writing.
Mr Murdzek and I worked together the year he taught first grade;co-taught writing and so much else at the third grade level for three years; and later we co-taught as I provided special education service to children during his years teaching fifth grade. Now he has administrative certification. What better man to lead a school into the twenty-first century?
There were a few years in there when every day was a joyous adventure. When we would get there early and stay there late working off each others' energy and excitement. There were four of us, Mr. Crispino and Mrs. Cutler rounding out our circle of genius. I laugh out loud to remember those days.
So today all the sadness and disappointment I have not written about goes down with the ship. I can still have lunch with Mrs. Savoy and Mr. Murdzek. We will always laugh because it was so so amazing in so so many ways.
Today I am a teacher. Tomorrow I will be me some more.