It’s here, and I have been fantasizing about this for a couple years now. This week will be my last as a teacher, not just for the summer, but forever (as far as I know anyway). If you’ve followed my blog for at least a year now, this comes as no surprise; I’ve been hinting at it at least that long. Also, if you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, I apologize for slacking the last month or so, but I’ve been busy preparing to quit my day job.
This Thursday will be the end of my seven year stretch as a high school English teacher. Due to some of the adult reactions I’ve had to this news, and undoubtedly some of your reactions, I feel the need to clarify that it is NOT because “kids these days are horrible.” Whether they are or not is all subjective, and even if they are, I love them anyway. The problem with my job has never been my students. Sure, I’ve had bad days, and I’ve even had a few kids I wanted to throttle from time to time, but overall, they have been the best part of my job. Not everybody likes teenagers, but I find them to be fascinating. They’re not adults yet, but they’re not really kids anymore, and they’ve got great ideas and unique views on life that make conversations with them so very interesting.
I have had amazing classroom moments and interactions with my kids when I just knew I was changing lives for the better, and I have had times when I wondered why I even bothered. I have been lucky enough to have students deem me as important enough in their worlds to share exciting news about getting parts in plays, doing well in band competitions, getting into the colleges of their dreams, passing their hardest classes, and even having baby siblings or getting new puppies. I have also had students who sensed my concern for them and found me trustworthy enough to express to me their biggest fears, their hearts’ desires, and their home and family struggles. My heart has both soared and broken for and with them on more occasions than I can remember. I have no regrets for the time I spent as a teacher. Even though I am leaving the profession, I feel it is the noblest of all careers.
Therein lies the problem. I never do anything partway or just “kinda good.” When I do something, I throw myself into it completely, and honestly, it was taking a hard toll on me. I would never make it another 23 years at the rate I was going. Teaching advanced level language arts classes requires evenings, weekends, and vacations. It’s a good thing I never felt the need to become a mother, but my poor husband became second to my job almost immediately, and though I have consciously tried to rectify that, the nature of the job only allows me to do that sometimes. We don’t have a bad marriage, and in fact I feel ours is healthier and stronger than most, but I know it can be better. Fortunately, I have an amazingly understanding husband; however, my priorities were askew. I need God first, my husband second, the rest of my family and friends third, and then my job.
So, what am I going to do now? This is the question everyone wants to know. Oddly (and it really is odd for a planner like me), I do not know…exactly. I need time off to figure that out, and so leaving my career is necessary.
My principal gave a great speech at graduation this past week. She told the students not to worry so much about the “what,” but to worry about the “why” of their futures. I felt like that speech spoke to me. I do not have the exact “what.” But I do have the “why.” My why is getting my life back and prioritizing it the way I believe God wants it to be, and then Robert and I are going to figure out what the plan is for US. We both feel there is something else for us…together, because we are together for a reason and we both have a passion for social justice against human trafficking. It’s funny that there was a rumor going around that I was leaving to join the Peace Corps. Other than almost every teenager who graduated from high school on a sit-com in the ’80s getting into a fight with their parents about this, I don’t really know much about the Peace Corps. But I do have a desire to reach beyond my current world to seek justice for those who cannot achieve it on their own. I know that will not be easy either, and then why would I want to leave one stressful job for another? Because I feel lead to do so, and this time, I’ll be doing it with Robert.
I’m sure the details will not be made clear for some time, and I’m ok with that. I need some time off anyway (I’ll use some of it to write more), and then I’ll do projects, or part time work in order to supplement Robert’s income. It will all work out, and though it’s a bit frightening, I know it’s the right thing, and I feel happier than I have in years. I feel completely at peace, which really says something for me, because I can be a bit tightly wound.
I say goodbye to my kids this week, to my colleagues, to my classroom, and to my school. Though I know I’ve made the right decision, this will not be easy. I’ve tried to make it clear to my students that they are not the reason I’m leaving. I hope they get that. I also hope that they won’t be afraid to come say hi if they see me out in public, and that they know that even though I may have been hard on them, it’s because I really cared all along, and I want them to be successful. I don’t know if they can ever know or understand how much they have all meant to me along the way, but I hope they do, and I wish them all the best.