I still have back to school dreams. But for the first time in 25 years I am not going back to school. I will not get a class list or assemble back to school packets. I will not help new students open packs of glue sticks or give hugs to old students that have grown unbelievably in 3 months. I will not get to catch up with old co-workers about their summers over a library table at the first staff meeting. There will be no scrambling to finish setting up my classroom hoping it would be just perfect for Open House.
Almost one year ago I did have a class list, and back to school packets assembled. I did chat with co-workers about their summers. I scrambled to set up my classroom. And by Open House, instead of welcoming parents to a new school year, I was telling them I was leaving. It was awful.
But through the scramble to pack my teaching career up and make way for my replacement, I left behind a small piece of myself. Because those kids were supposed to be mine, if only for a brief time. And I couldn’t let that go. Finding fossils and seeing erosion at work had me wanting to tell them all about it. Seeing a favorite read aloud on a shelf at the library had me wanting to read it to them. I couldn’t, but I still felt a part of things.
This year is different. I do not have a class. I have fifteen boxes. That’s how many boxes and rubbermaid containers it took to hold my lesson plans, book collection, and materials I had created. Everytime I go out to the garage to get my bike or the jogging stroller I see those boxes. A towering reminder of what is missing from my life. The other day I knocked a small plastic organizer off of the end of a table and poems for “Poetry Pockets” spilled everywhere. I just felt so sad cleaning up those extra copies of poems about Abraham Lincoln.
The packet to get my Oregon teaching license sits on a shelf in our “office” closet. I can’t bring myself to fill it out — like it would be the official end to my time teaching in Virginia. Which was an incredible experience. Maybe a once in a lifetime. I met some of my best friends at that school. I worked with some of the most incredible teachers and families. And the students. They will never know how much they have shaped my life or the random things that happen to make me think of one of them. I wish them all a happy, happy year.
I know I have a lot to be thankful for. Staying at home with Abigail brings an incredible amount of joy to my life. I won’t get to do this forever. But today I want to be sad. Sad because for the first time in 25 years I’m not going back to school.