When I found out last year that I would be leaving my previous position, I was so torn. Sure, that place’s mission for children mixed with mine like oil and water…but I had part of me that wanted to stay so badly for my kids. For me, it’s always been about the kids…but I had a large part of me that needed to do this for my future students.
If you worked with me at my previous job, I hope you know that the person you worked with is not the true me. A select few there actually KNEW me. They knew my passion for equality in education, and they knew my struggle. Southeast DC was my place. I didn’t want to leave my place. My best friend and mentor was there (and still is.) My kids were there. My basketball team, my softball team, my sped office where we laid it out all day every day. But, the person you saw who yelled at children, lost their temper, and impatiently waited for the clock to tick down until the end of the day EVERYDAY. Truth is, I felt worthless. I was depressed more than I ever have been. I got to a point where I doubted myself so much in this profession that I almost walked away from my passion.
Through a lot of support outside of work, I was able to get to where I am now… I love my job, I love my existence as a member of a team, I feel like what we do at my school is always done with our children’s education in mind. I am teaching children how to be successful members of society, to question everything, and to be open minded AND I LOVE IT.
It’s taken me until tonight to allow myself to stop wallowing in guilt for the kids I left there and to trust my best friend to take care of my kids. I will also admit though, if any of you are reading this, know that you are still and will ALWAYS be my kids. I know I haven’t been able to visit. I know I haven’t kept in contact the best I could. But not a day goes by that I don’t think of my girls basketball team and all you girls now in highschool, of my boys from last year, my two girls that put up with my boys, and of my TEAM that kept me alive, fed, and smiling between tears over the past two years. I came in every day not for the money, but for you guys.
And now, its as if my family has extended. I worried when I left and came to my current school (which is extremely diverse) that I would not soak up the culture like I had in an all African-American school. I shouldn’t have worried because now I’m soaking up new cultures. I’m developing my voice in education. I have kids here, and they are diverse, loving, open minded, and inspiring on a daily basis. They have their faults but I’m happy every day with my job. I walk into work excited. I leave work smiling. My co-workers are just as diverse as my students but I’m able to smile (and get a smile in return) from any staff member in the building. I feel appreciated, I feel capable. I never felt those things at my past school. Here, I’m home. (Thanks, Carmen for pointing me home).
Alright, enough of that sap. I’m waxing poetic over here, filled with nostalgia and new happiness all in one. I’m happy, though — truly happy. It’s been a rough road and I’m finally looking at a new path that feels promising. I owe so much to my family, friends, co-workers, and students for supporting me through all of this and not letting the changes that have occurred damage our relationships. And most of all for helping me realize that I am making a difference around me.
And that…that is why I teach.