Thursday, July 2, 2015

Big deal, so what, who cares...

I was 22 and working in a little, rural school as the "Computer Teacher."  I had just graduated from UVM in May, and started teaching that August.  I originally applied for a reading teaching position at the elementary school, but it had been filled in house that very day.  As the principal walked me out, he asked me if I knew anything about computers.  He said he would love to hire me for another position they had just created for the school teaching computers and running the little schools' network.  I accepted on the spot and was interviewed later, as a formality.  

Lucy and Alyssa.
Mount Holly School housed kindergarten through 6th grade, and I worked with all the classes, and every student in the building, however Lucy and Alyssa became my little buddies within the first weeks of teaching. There were just about the cutest little first graders you can imagine.  They were also far above their classmates in reading and writing, and came to work with me every morning for "enrichment."

Lucy and Alyssa did advanced reading with me, primarily, but we also designed and created webpages and movies on a variety of topics; we learned about other cultures and I taught them basic French and Spanish; we hiked the nature trail...  I was given complete freedom with them, and their imagination was our playground.  Later, I was given rotating groups of first, then the next year, second graders (Same class of kids), because the teachers realized my intensive time and work with them was increasing their reading skills, and advancing the students forward much faster than if they only had full class instruction.  The second year I was there, the principal, John Notte, joked that their standardized state reading scores spiked so high, that it would make them look bad if they had normal scores ever again.  Anyway, Lucy and Alyssa's moms complained when they didn't get to spend as much time with me, and we started an afterschool "club," for just the three of us to make up for missed time.  They came to my wedding with their families.  I miss them.  The other day I heard a song Lucy and Alyssa used to love to sing along to with me, called Big Deal, by LeAnn Rimes.  I was behind that glass again, in my Mount Holly time capsule.

I left Mount Holly School in 2002, when I was offered a job as technology coordinator in Springfield.  The commute to Mount Holly was long and treacherous in the winter.  I wish I had never left Mount Holly. It was my first teaching job, and I had no idea how great I had it... until I left.  I applied for other jobs closer to Springfield, where we were living at the the time and where Sam was working, and was offered every job I applied for.  I regret my decision, still.  I think my life became more complicated in other ways than just a long drive, when I took the new job.
Computer Teacher love from a middle school student in Springfield.  
The next job decision I made, which was a poor one, was leaving the technology coordinator position to teach English at the high school.  I was pregnant, I was convinced by very supportive administrators, and my parents, to take a job that was stationary and less "stress."  I took the job for my father.  I made a lot of choices based on making my parents happy once I was working in Springfield School District which changed my life, and put me here, laying in my bed for long stretches of my days.

I digress.  When I was teaching Sophomore English, not so very long ago, I usually began the year with The Catcher in the Rye and not far into the book came an essay question about something we have tried to put behind the glass of a display case in The Museum of Natural History, as Holden visits the museum and says how he likes that nothing changes... nothing  should change.

Do you have people who live in time capsules in your memory, or moments in your life you have placed behind glass?  They don't change, even though the world changes around us.  We change, yet there is no change in that capsule.  That's how teaching, at Mount Holly, and in Springfield are to me, now.

At Mount Holly Elementary School.  It was a tiny school, in a tiny town.  Of course, I loved all the students, however I could not help but see Alyssa and Lucy as very special.  They both exist in a second grade time capsule, still.  They exist as I last saw them when I left that little school, despite watching them grow up on Facebook.   They exist as those little, silly, wide eyed kids, even though my own babies are now the exact age of my frozen-in-time Lucy and Alyssa.  Is that unhealthy? When I left and lost contact with all the wonderful people at Mount Holly School, my mind never advanced any of them beyond when and where I last knew them.  Maybe that's normal.  Sometimes I imagine my children meeting second grade Lucy and Alyssa and playing together.  That's not normal.

I think when abrupt changes happen in one's life, he or she can get lost in the past.  I am sometimes lost in my mind, imagining my last Sophomore English class, before I stopped teaching, didn't just graduate from high school, and are all still 15 and 16.  I imagine my classroom is still, well, mine--the one adjoining my father's room.  I imagine I'm still a teacher.  I forget sometimes how much time has passed and is passing. Next school year, I could visit the high school, and I wouldn't know any of the students.  Things have changed there, and people have changed.

And things do change, and people change.  Kids grow up.  My babies are growing up!
People move on.  Life keeps going on and on and on.  I don't like being left behind, but I don't always know how to move along, and forward.  I step sideways and let others pass...  Or they push past me...  And I can't stop them.


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