What a Year

Today marks a year since we moved from Arizona to Virginia. Last summer was a whirlwind. Setting up the house. Taking a trip to South Africa to visit family. Commemorating Mom’s passing on July 30. And then I started a new school year.

Today marks the day I complete my one-year stint at a city high school. It was a bad fit right from the start. I have never worked at a school where chaos ruled. There are pages I could write, but they are mostly negative, and I don’t want to go there. Who’d have thought I would have a panic attack at my age? It took all my strength to endure the school year. I felt like a phony with a pasted smile and scratching my head at how the faculty and staff loved the school so much. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

The top four reasons why I could not stay: loud profanity, no accountability, seven lockdowns, sudden fights in the classroom, and no way to stop the addiction students have to their cell phones.

What good can I say?

I grew to care for all of my students. It took until February. Even the loudest, scariest students looked me in the eyes and talked to me respectfully. We learned to relax around each other. The AP Literature students were the brightest 60 students I ever had in the twenty-three years I’ve been teaching. My colleagues were nice to me. The historical building is beautiful that is respected by the community.

I suppose if I stayed, I would grow thick enough skin to endure the craziness. But at 60, I know I need a school that is smaller, quieter, and more stable.

The next step? I was hired at Liberty High School in Bedford where I live. Instead of a 40-minute commute, I will have a four-minute commute. I’m excited to gain back time.

As I leave classroom S108 for the final time, my feelings are mixed. It was the first time I ever worked only one year at a school. Let’s just call it a bad fit and move on.

I keep saying I’m going to post and write more, but I’ve been emotionally stuck. I hope this summer I can find my footing and catch my breath. I feel like I’ve been holding it for months.

1 Shot Wednesday: Galway

Happy early St. Patrick’s Day. A student emailed that she was late turning in an assignment because she was in Galway, Ireland. She sent me pictures to prove she was there. I forgave her because I was green with envy! Thank you, Haley Cockerham, who gave me permission to share a few of her photos.

It does make me wonder.

I’d save all year to buy a ticket to travel to Ireland without reservation. Do my friends in England get over there? What about southern England or Cornwall? Scotland? The Lake District? I count the days to retirement so I can spend a season “over there.”

When I lived in Fairview, New Jersey, across the George Washington Bridge to NYC, I was shocked at how few neighbors and relatives had ever been to the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building or upstate New York.

Here I am three hours from Washington D.C., and I think, “Oh, God, a three-hour drive into the city? No thanks!”

Wherever we are in the world, traveling to “elsewhere” may be at great expense and aggravation, but I’m willing to do it. Shame on me for allowing the congested traffic to keep me from taking pictures of the Cherry Trees in bloom in D.C.

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