|Sarah and Irene, Halloween 2001|
I've been a teacher most of my my adult life, and I've worn my "Super Sarah" costume almost every Halloween since I created the ensemble the night before Halloween in 1999. Halloween 2001 was no exception, but it's the only Halloween in which I confronted myself. My student, Irene, who was generally considered to resemble me somewhat, dressed up as me. She wore clothing similar to my teacher attire (though I did not bare my midriff in my outfits; I mean, I sure hope I didn't), carried my Women in Texas book (I taught TX History that year), and performed an embarrassingly accurate impression that had the school roaring.
|I was not the only teacher to be dressed as that year. That was my roommate and the school's shop teacher with his little buddy.|
The process of discovering this photo from the recesses of the cabinet got me feeling so nostalgic for that school. I worked there, an independent school for students with dyslexia in Austin, TX, from 2000 to 2002 before my quest for adventure sent me across the world to teach. I've always been a special education teacher, and I've mostly worked within that "language-based learning difference" (dyslexia) niche. I've taught at five different schools in my career, public and independent, two with strong national or international reputations, but I've never worked in a school with a tighter-knit community. I know I look back on those years with rose-tinted glasses (I was so young). But I was single and worry-free (not really, but I look back and think I should have been); I loved where I lived, my colleagues, my students and their families, and I felt fully a part of a community dedicated to the goal of building up our students with the confidence and skills they would need to head on to high school and the years beyond. I have become a much, much better teacher since those early oughts; also, the school at which I last worked had nearly as tight of a community, and if I'm willing to be completely honest, did a better job of educating students. But at that school in Austin, I was completely immersed in a way that only a single, childless teacher can immerse herself, and I loved it. Of all the schools I've taught in, I've never given more of my heart, and the students I taught at this school are the only ones with whom I still keep in touch.
I am always and always will be thrilled to hear of the doings of my students at that school. I smile to see how their early preferences blossom into life choices in business, art, science, or math. I got to attend Spencer's bar mitzvah and Irene's wedding (and she mine). May they always keep me informed and invited because I'll always be interested.