Thursday, October 24, 2013

For Every Season There is a Reason-My Story (Part 1)

Lately, I've been reading several blog posts about teacher burnout or bad experiences that teachers are having in the classroom this year.  Unfortunately, every career has its lows and teaching is no exception.  We are far enough into the school year now that the new has worn off, the reports cards have gone out, the students are finding their niche (or lack of) academically and socially, and parents are making their pleasure or disdain known.  It is a tough time of year.  Period.  I do not want this post to be about passing blame or even finding reasons why teaching is so difficult, but instead I wish to bring hope to those that are in difficult situations in teaching.  I would like to share my story with you.  I have waited a long time to share my story, as I feel that it is not complete, but I want to share with you and encourage others that are having a rough time right now.  I will warn you now that this promises to be lengthy and maybe emotional (well, mostly for me, anyway), but if you are reading this then please keep reading.  My plan is to write this in three parts, as I have now taught in three different school districts and my prayer is that my story touches someone. 

Part 1-HES
This is my tenth year teaching and it has definitely had its ups and downs.  The first several years are a blur to me now and sometimes I think back and say to myself, "How in the world did I ever make it?"  I was very fortunate to begin my teaching career in January of 2004 after graduating in December of 2003.  I was welcomed into a school that was warm and inviting and I was blessed to teach with some of my college classmates.  I taught in a resource setting all day my first year.  This was a tough time to say the least, because I was brand new and trying to find my way into a school year that had already started around a staff that I didn't know in a town forty five minutes from my house.  This first school though, had several "seasoned" teachers that took me under their wings and taught me "the ways."  The principal, teachers, parents, and students quickly became family to me. HES was the top in the state and reached Proficiency early in the game, but good test scores weren't the only thing that made this school so special. People from the community and in the school often remarked about the care and dedication of the teachers in our building and the amazing parent support that helped create a climate like no other.  The school was often called the most Christian school that wasn't actually a religious school.  Pretty good for a public school if you ask me, as my relationship with God and my care for my family is the most important thing to me.   I spent five years at HES teaching resource and collaboration in the intermediate grade levels and my sixth and final year there co-teaching in Kindergarten.  Little did I know, that God was preparing me for a bigger change and placed me teaching with my best friend that would support and encourage me to make one of the biggest transitions of my life.  

In December of 2010, my husband was offered a job in the Central Kentucky area.  As I mentioned earlier I was teaching with my best friend, Mandy.  Mandy and I often talked about the Central KY area, because this is where her sister lives.  She always talked about how she liked it here and thought I would like it, too.  Little did either of us know at the time that God had something in store.  I vividly remember one day after school helping Mandy wipe down the tables in her Kindergarten classroom discussing G-town and how nice it is and how it would be weird if my husband were to ever relocate with his job to this area. My husband and I knew, in the back of our mind that this may be an option at some point in our lives, but never really expected anything to ever happen.  Not long after my conversation with Mandy that day, my husband informed me that a colleague of his in the Central KY area had been let go and that his company was looking for someone to fill that position.  Suddenly, we were faced with a decision that we had always haphazardly talked about and only really taken lightly, but now realized that this could be reality.  In December of 2009, my husband and I decided that relocating for his job was an opportunity that couldn't be passed up.  God had opened so many doors for us and confirmed this decision to us in so many ways that the final decision was actually very easy to make.  Mandy was the first person that I told.  I told her even before my family knew anything about this at all.  She was so happy for me and encouraged me to go and even though I knew that I would be leaving a school I loved and people that were like family to me, I knew in my heart that this is what we were meant to do.  I must say that my friend's encouragement and excitement for me and this new journey was all of the confirmation that I needed that the right decision had been made. We kept our news quiet through Christmas and finally told our families after the holidays.  Talk about keeping a secret!  Whew!  That was tough!

Soon after the new year, I made the news known to my principal that I would be leaving.  It was a sad time, but exciting.  Emotions were high is an understatement.  My husband started his new position soon after the beginning of the year and moved to Lexington (four hours away from me and our two kids-who at the time where 7 and 3) in February, but I stayed back to finish up the school year and to begin the search for a new job.  This definitely took a toll on my sanity!  I've noticed while reading other teachers posts about their burnout or a tough school year is immediately after big change.  Change is so difficult, but it is how we handle that change that determines how we come out in the end.  

My husband came home every weekend during the five months that we were separate from one another and we either talked or Skyped every evening. Here my little guy is talking to Daddy while he is gone for his new job.

 I am thankful for HES during this time in my life.  Several teachers there took care of me and encouraged me.  Mandy was by my side and always willing to help.  My parents lived close and were there every time I called.  It was tough, but manageable.  During this time of transition I began completing applications and filing out resumes and hoping and praying that I could find a job from hundreds of miles away.  I drove to Central KY twice for two separate interviews and luckily landed the second job.  I was ecstatic to have somewhere to go to when I left my old school.  Leaving my old school though, turned out to be one of the hardest things that I ever did in my life.  

HES is where I "grew up" as a teacher.  I had wonderful mentors, principals, and friends and family all right there in that 500+ student body and staff.  I learned to be a leader there, I followed the footsteps of amazing teachers, and strived to me like them one day, and I was leaving behind my best friends, which now had become my family.  I questioned our decision so many times when it came down to time to really say good-bye.  On the last day of school,  I was a wreck.  I cried probably 90% of that day and when I wasn't crying I was thinking about crying.  I would miss that school so much.  After I said my final good-byes for one last time, I opened the main doors to the outside and stepped out, and thought to myself, "This is the last time that I leave this building as a teacher at HES."  Humbled, heart crushed, excited, confused, anxious were only a few of the ways I was feeling on this last day.  One thing though that gave me comfort was that everyone there always said, "Once a Hunter, Always a Hunter" is a motto that rings so true to the students, teachers and families that go through the doors of HES.

This is just the first "chapter" in my story of life and school.  I must say that life was good there and I was lucky to have been there for so long, but that season of my life was ending and God was preparing me for what lay ahead.  Many changes and questions would soon fill my mind and heart as new school year started.  Fellow teachers, I know how hard it is to make a change.  I know how difficult it is to leave your comfort zone and a place you love, but sometimes God puts you in a place for a season for His reasons.  Whether you have it good where you are at right now or it just stinks where you are, believe that there is a greater purpose for your life.  You are being prepared to do great things.

Until tomorrow and "chapter 2,"  ;)


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