Saturday, May 16, 2015

The End of My Teaching Career -- Look at Those Faces!

   One month from today I will not set the alarm clock or pack my lunch. I won't wake up early thinking about what I will do in school today.  After 45 years of teaching -- public school, Christian school, home school -- I will be officially retired.  I have to turn in my iPad, clean out my desk, delete all the documents on my computer, give my goldfish away, and say goodbye to daily laughter and sharing life with my dear assistant and friend.
   Although I know it is time for me to step away from assessments and teacher evaluations and observations and faculty meetings and workshops and Common Core and report cards and lesson plans -- all the parts of the profession that I DONT like -- I am having a little trouble stepping away from the actual teaching. I mean, look at these faces!


   Teaching kids to read and write stories and introducing them to everything from caterpillars to clouds -- seeing their eyes open to the world around them as they learn about growing seeds and building cubes and ocean life and Pilgrims and so many other things -- well, that is just such a joy!
    I'm not saying that it's all fun and games -- there are fusses and rule-breaking and saying "be quiet, keep your hands to yourself, sit down, stop tattling" about a hundred times a day.  There are kids who never do homework, kids who can't remember what a 4 is, kids who pinch and choke other kids, kids with head lice and pink eye, kids who have parents in jail, kids who need love but show it in the most difficult ways. I come home so tired and drained that I can hardly get off the couch some days. 
   But look at this face! Priceless and worth every hard day when you can see the wonder when they
accomplish something new!  

      So, as I walked through Target this week, I felt a little lost. Nothing I needed to buy, with less than 20 days of school left. Don't need to buy clothes for work. I saw some cute little red polka dotted buckets that I really wanted to buy, but knew that would be crazy. And that stuffed turtle at Kohls would have been great for the Franklin stories and reptiles unit. But I won't be teaching that again.
       Don't get me wrong. I am looking forward to retirement and having time and energy to clean my house and travel with my family and cook meals. I will finally empty the bookcases and closets and baskets full of teaching books and supplies that I have accumulated over the past 45 years. But I have been "Teacher" for so long -- it's who I am -- my identity -- and I don't exactly know who I will be when that is over. I am eager to find my new place in life -- time to read books just for fun, work at church, go to daytime activities, take vacations when everyone else is at school. I'm excited --and tired -- and counting the days. But I will miss my co-workers-- the lunch room ladies that fix my lunch, the custodians who clean my room, the office workers who keep everything running smoothly and intercept phone calls, the teachers who inspire me and especially the hard-working assistants who do so much to make life easier. My own assistant, Mrs. Awesome, is a treasure and the main reason I have kept teaching this long. And the kids who make me want to pull my hair out, beat my head against the wall, and cry -- and who greet me every morning with bright smiles when I walk in, and run to hug me and write love notes.  Look at these faces!!





Saturday, May 9, 2015

Tribute to My Mother

     It is Mother's Day Weekend, and I am thinking about my mother.  She died in 1997 -- 18 years ago -- but I still miss her.  In 1996, when she was 70 and battling breast cancer again, I heard a "Focus on the Family" radio broadcast about writing a tribute to your parents.  I took it to heart and wrote a tribute to my mom, had it framed, and read it out loud to her. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to tell her how much she meant to me, because that was our last Christmas together.  Later I wrote one for my dad, then helped Sam write one for his mom. I decide to share it with anyone who reads my "Godwinks" even though some of the references will mean nothing to those who weren't there. But I would encourage anyone who still has parents to think about writing a tribute while they can still appreciate it.
                                          To My Angel Mother -- A Tribute
    The Bible says,"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it."  You said this for as long as I can remember. I can still hear the sound of the kitchen drawer being jerked out as you reach for the spatula to remind us.And I can't say that I loved that sound -- in fact, it still gives me a shiver -- but I will be eternally grateful for the lesson that it taught me. I learned that your word was good and that there would be consequences for any bad behavior. This was the beginning of a lifetime of training me, firmly, but always lovingly.
    You taught me practical things -- cooking, making the most of little, child care -- then let me practice on my brothers!  I learned responsibility at a young age when you trusted me to cook supper and watch the boys. You always made me feel grown up and encouraged me with praise for everything I did.
    You taught me values that I hope to pass on to my own children.  You always said, "Anything worth doing is worth doing well."  I wish I had always listened to that advice -- but I am still trying. You brought me to church and taught classes and had parties and activities for all the kids at church.I KNEW that nothing was more important to you than your love for God -- I knew by the way you read your Bible early in the morning, shared your faith with friends... and even strangers--- ad passed that love on to the next generation, and the next.  I will always be in awe of  your faithfulness to God, church, kids, elderly, and family.
    You have amazed me over the years with your creativity -- you have always been able to make something out of nothing. How many times did we suddenly remember that we needed a science project, Halloween costume, etc. just as the bus went up the road.You could always come up with something!  And you can look in an almost empty refrigerator and come up with a delicious meal before I can make up a grocery list. We may not have had much, but I bet nobody else's mother could make grits and ketchup into a meal. And who else would dream up all the fun things we have done over the years? I still can't believe that you convinced Dottie Rambo to come to Red House! Or use an apple core for a washcloth!
     At Christmas I remember taking a doll or game to some child who wasn't getting much for Christmas __ kindness and consideration for others is another lesson you taught.  I know you have cut your daffodils to share with others, and you are always on of the "cheerful givers" that God loves. You look for ways to make people happy, and it is no wonder that you are loved by so many.
     You taught us to appreciate nature -- I loved the hikes we took to see wild flowers -- how did you learn so much? You always point out things that I would miss -- clouds, sunsets, wild flowers, birds -- and no mother could have appreciated a bouquet of dandelions as much as you did.
     You encouraged me to learn and expand my horizons -- even when it meant that I was so engrossed in a book that I really wasn't much help around the house. You sent me to camp and college, even though you could have insisted that I stay home ad help out.  I know now what a sacrifice that was, but I don't remember one complaint about the expense -- I just remember that you seemed proud of me, and that gave me the confidence to keep going.
    When I married Sam, you loved him, too -- and because of your example of commitment to your own marriage -- for better or worse-- I made a lifetime commitment, too, with confidence and hope.  What a heritage I have!
       When I was about to give birth to Sara, you swallowed your fear of flying and came all the way to Alaska to help by taking care of TJ... and to take care of me.  Oh, the inexpressible comfort of knowing that my mother was there when I needed a mother most!!! All my life, you have come when I needed you.
       One of the hardest lessons you've taught, "Don't worry until you know there is something to worry about" is one I am still working on. But you have given me optimism, and the assurance that God is in control, so I will continue to lean hard on the Lord, no matter what is ahead. I know God has his hand on your life, and I am who I am because of what He had done through you.
     Mother, I love you and am deeply grateful for the lessons you have taught me. I still have a lot to learn, so don't stop praying for me and teaching me how to live. I am proud and thankful that you are my mother and my friend and my biggest fan.  I hope I will be the kind of mother to my children that you have been to me. Proverbs 31, Her children rise up and call her blessed" was written about you.  I am blessed because you are my mother.
Love, Ann
December 1996