Sunday, May 28, 2017

Passing the torch

I think the girl who gave this to me in the 6th grade is now going into the 10th; it was hard for me to keep track once they left my school. Of all the things I was given over the years, this is the one I will keep. I never thought much about what it said until recently.

Today, I got a message from a former student from around 1990; He is retiring from the army and going to become a teacher. Here is part of our conversation:

""You are part of the reason I want to teach you know. You impacted my entire life! Years and years from that desk in front of the room. If I am blessed to grow old, my success will have your DNA. Who wouldnt want that job?"

Man, I loved this "kid" back in the day. I clearly remember him front and center in my English class, though I don't recall what year. Jervie was contemplative back then, and I'm sure he still is. He always had a serious look on his face, and really thought before he spoke....and what usually came out was profound. Now, he wants to teach. More power to him; he spent 23 years in the army, so he can handle whatever education throws at him. He wants to "make a difference." God bless him.

This is Kakeshia, another Ruffin alum.  She says I influenced her to be a teacher (not on purpose!).  She is a Gifted and Talented teacher in the Atlanta area and has been a Teacher of the Year.  She and her hubby, also a Ruffin alum, have adopted a brother and sister.  I will always remember Kakeshia's big smile and gorgeous, big eyes.

This inset picture is of me and Dr. Wanda Boatwright, yet another Ruffin alum who says she became a teacher because of me, at least in part.  Wanda has also been a Teacher of the Year in the Atlanta area.  (The guy in the big picture is yet another story.)  

Ruffin High was a Title One, high poverty school.  In spite of that, it has many success stories.  These are just the ones I know of who went/will go into teaching.  For more of good ol' Ruffin High, go here:  here

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Retirement Benefit #1: Rid of nasty, jealous people

We have no control over with whom we work unless we change jobs.  As I was cooking Priscilla's meal this morning, the first benefit of retirement hit me:  choosing with whom I spend time.  No longer do I have to tolerate nasty, jealous, selfish people.

In the last two years, I have come to the conclusion that some people are just naturally nasty, jealous, MISERABLE people........and if we looked at their lives, we would see they have been that way either their entire lives, or pretty darn close.  There are two women at work who, in their "infinite wisdom,"  decided nearly two years ago that I was not "pulling my weight" in the work department.  As though they, with their cushy positions, had any room to talk--or as though they even "knew" what I did.  Anyway, one has her nose so far up the other's butt that she can't see straight.  The other one dictates what this one's relationships will be.  It's really comical in a way, but then again, it is pitiful.  Yes, I pity them because both are clearly miserable people walking around with a perpetual scowl.

The funny thing is:  my being gone next year will not heal their bitterness and anger, for that is the core of whom they are.

However, benefit #1 of retirement is choosing whom I will let breathe my air.

Friday, May 26, 2017

God Rights Wrongs

I have been blessed beyond measure with a retirement party and then today, more gifts.  It'  It IS about how they make me feel.

For most of my career, I have been abused and unappreciated, as most teachers are.  My goal is to blog about my experiences over the next year---and get it out of my system so I can truly close this chapter of my life.

I told one of the "girls" (Heck, anyone younger than I is a girl, but the two teachers who organized my party are in their 20s.) that I would expect 3-4 people.  I was blown away to see it was standing room only with 30 desks taken as well as 4 or 5 chairs, too.  Granted, some people came for the food, but many gave food and monetary donations towards the gift cards.  I was in awe.  

But......I am reminded that God rights wrongs.  He takes injustices and eventually turns them around, if one has faith.  I wholeheartedly believe that.

Today, I received more gifts.  This gift card came from a classified lady, meaning she is a support staff person who doesn't make that much.  I feel this was a sacrifice.  She said she will always remember me for my perseverance and toughness.  Yes, one does not survive 21 years in middle school at 4 feet 11 if she is a wimp.  I have already been to the Hilton Head website and see a facial in my future.  ON.THE.DAY.I.CHOOSE.WHENEVER.I.CHOOSE

This bag below was from a lady who had already contributed to my party.  If you can see the mug behind the Russell Stover candy (all gone!  My philosophy is to eat it in one day; then, I can start fresh with my eating tomorrow!), it says on the inside rim, "I can do all things through Christ."  That is my mantra and has been throughout my career.  She also included an adult scripture coloring book, which I will be doing!  Of course, she added some cat treats for me, too, such as a much-needed spoon rest.

Then, I was gifted with this bag of coffee from a local, on-island cafe.  It's pecan flavored.  I can't wait to try it alone and again, mixed with my Starbucks Verona for a chocolate-pecan flavor.  It will be nice to drink coffee whenever I want and pee when I want!  Sorry, but that is NOT a given for teachers, folks!

Finally, my second boss and her husband/pet children gave me this:

It resembles my Snowflake, except she has a blue eye and a green one.

So, I give God all the glory in making this retirement something I will never forget.  He began to turn things around three years ago.  What he has shown me through this is two things:

1.  More people liked me than I thought.
2.  He is faithful.  I am going out with a feeling of being appreciated for the first time in my life.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Book 1, Chapter 29 Closes

Some people are big party people and would celebrate a retirement with a huge blow-out in a fancy restaurant or bar.  I'm not a big party person.  Two of the young teachers at my school decided to throw me a small retirement party after school yesterday, and that suited me just fine.  I have been in the same school for 13 years.  Last week, one lady called me a "staple."  I think that will live with me as long as I have my good mind.  A staple is something you always keep in your kitchen, like flour or sugar.  I am/was the longest consecutive teaching staff member in that school, so I suppose I am/was a staple.  Here are some pictures of my party.  I don't scrapbook, so my memories' footprints will be here and in my Facebook album.  

Someone (LeAnna) stalked my Facebook to get the above collage of pictures, but then she went to the trouble of printing them like real pictures.  How does one even do that?  I have no clue.
This card below is from the Morgan family.  I had the pleasure of teaching 6 of their 8 children.  This family is the DREAM family any teacher DREAMS of.  Honestly, I can not say enough about how they have reared their children.  While no child is perfect, they come darn close....and they are smart to boot!

This is a bouquet they gave me.  Just gorgeous
Two of my colleagues who retired in the last 5 or so years brought me these mums.  I was so happy to see Sherri and Deb again!

These are two gift cards they gave me.  I think this was when I cried.  I really didn't expect more than 4 or 5 people to show up, but there were over 30.  The room was packed; all the desks were taken, the chairs, and a few were standing.

One sweet colleague and her son gave me this Starbucks card.
My BFF came and gave me a Walmart card and said I could go any day, any time of day I want.  No more answering to a clock!

This cute sign was part of the decorations.  It's framed so I can keep it as a memento from the party.

Finally, some videos of the party.
The first is what I saw when I came in.

The food video

More video of the people who came

One of my students from 4 years ago came back.  Her mom is the School Resource Officer at my school.  Maggie was in my GT 6th grade ELA class at the end of the day that year.  She is not only beautiful, but smart as a whip, as the saying goes.

If you made it this far through my retirement party memories, I thank you.  Yesterday was the last day I have with students, and it ended with a bang.  I brought them all candy bar brownies and had a raffle for items from my classroom and home; stuffed animals and sketch books were the big attractions.  Everything I allotted for the raffle was given out, and the recipients were happy, so mission accomplished!

Next Wednesday, May 31, chapter 29 closes on Book 1 of My Life.   Book 2 awaits.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

In the Rearview Mirror

Four weeks from today I will turn in my keys for the last time and my badge.  I am 100% certain this is the right thing for me and my parents, but I am sure I will be emotional as I relinquish all I have known for 29 years.  I know there is a time and season for everything, and I know mine is about up.

Right after I signed my first contract, I traded my perfectly fine 1980 Clemson orange Mustang for a 1988 Nissan Sentra.  And.....I signed a lease on a cute craftsman style house across from Walterboro High's football stadium.  All this before I ever got my first paycheck.  When I did get it, my heart dropped; my take home was $464.  One check didn't cover my car payment and rent.  Since Mother didn't want me moving home, she gave me $150 a month to be able to stay on my own. 

As I was going through things, I found some relics.  Teachers are notorious pack rats.  This book of essay topics has travelled with me for 29 years.  There are thousands of topics covering close to 100 subjects, but I think it is time to let it go.

It traveled with me to 5 schools and 17 classrooms:

    Ruffin High:  8 years and 2 rooms
    Colleton Middle:  4 years and 1 room
    Colleton Prep:  1 year and 1 room
    Whale Branch Middle:  3 years and 3 rooms
    Robert Smalls:  13 years and 7 rooms (more on THAT in another post)

As I was going through things,I came across these notes from 10 years ago.  I remember because I had these students in 2006-2007 right before I knew I had cancer.  I remember each of these student's faces.

I am sure as I move forward, more memories will bubble to the surface, but these students were some of the best I have had.  We had single gender classes that year with one girls' class, one boys' class, one coed regular, and one GT coed.  That was the time I realized I much preferred teaching boys.  Girls are too drama-filled.  And, the GT class was da bomb.  I remember writing them a letter where I highlighted each one of them and what I would remember them for.  At least one is already married. What I love about Facebook is being able to keep up with them.  

Twenty-nine years was just a minute ago.