It is Monday, 8 am, and it is my last first day of school. I have told my principal, my department, some of the cheerleaders so word will get around. This is it for me. Nine years, it turns out, is enough.
I really thought I would do this job for thirty years. When a student asked me, my very first day as a a teacher, how long I thought I would last, I told her she would have to pull my cold dead body out of the classroom. I have lasted longer than the people betting on my departure at my first school thought I would, but I am 21 years short of where I was sure I would be.
I thought I was a lifer. Turns out, I am not.
I have big plans for my exit. As Christian graduates and Priscilla gets to go to school, I will go to seminary and prepare to be a pastor. A youth pastor I think, I still love teenagers, but I would like to maybe leave that possibility more open. After all, I thought I was going to be a teacher forever. So I guess anything is possible.
I spent last week unpacking my posters, my stapler, my literary action figures. I can’t believe I won’t need the parts of speech super hero posters ever again. I bought them my very first year. I don’t know an adult life where I am not a teacher. I don’t know a career where you don’t get a spring break or one where you do get a lunch break more than 25 minutes.
I don’t totally know who I am if I am not Ms. Norman, the crazy english teacher who loves and yells with equal ferocity so it is best not to cross her. But I do know that it is time, that all signs point to it being time to pack up the puppets and the intricate knowledge of Romeo and Juilet, Antigone, and Of MIce and Men, and follow the still small voice off into the wilderness.
I know a lot about education, and later I am sure (probably when the testing season begins) it will be time to explain clearly the policies of the day and why I can’t do this job the way the legislation says I have to. But that day is not today.
Today is my last first day of teaching, and it is so very bittersweet. At the end of this year over a thousand people will be able to say that I was there teacher. And even when some of those kids were a pain in my ass, it is an honor and privilege that I got to teach them. As I explain to my students on the first day of class, if you are my kid for a year, you are my kid forever. I reserve the right to holler at you any time you are doing something crazy, and you reserve the right to ask me for help. That is just the way it is. Forever.
What do you say kiddos? Let’s do this one more time.