Friday, October 25, 2013

One Halloween...

I had to do some serious digging to unearth this photo complete the FTSF link-up.

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.

22 comments :

  1. That is so Awesome, Sarah! I hope you will always cherish your memories of Austin and make new memories in your future endeavors : )

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    1. Thanks, Sherri! You know what's it's like to love your former charges.

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  2. I love that you found these photos and seriously your student did very much resemble you (minus the mid-ruff t-shirt). Looked like so much fun and I look back on older photos of myself now with similar nostalgia and just can't believe how far I have come in the years! Thank you for sharing and linking up, Amy. Totally enjoyed and Happy almost Halloween!! :)

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  3. How wonderful that you have such a strong bond with so many of your students - you sound like an incredibly passionate educator. I used to be a teacher too, but I became one after I became a mother, so I never had a chance to really immerse myself in the way that a single, childless person can do so in a school. I hope to return to teaching when my children are grown-up so I can do just that. Irene really looks like you! Especially in the second photo. I love that you had such a good relationship with your students that she could dress up as you and imitate you and it was all in good spirit - that's testament to your ability to build a really strong bond with your students. Thanks so much for sharing this - loved it.

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    1. I'm pretty sure it was in good spirit. :) No, I'm sure it was. Thanks for commenting.

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  4. I got a bit choked up with this. My son is in Preschool Autism Class and I ADORE his teacher. I know I'll stay in touch with her forever and hope so much that she'll be at my son's graduation/ wedding/ something one day. What a lovely and touching post. Like HUGE amounts of awesome.

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    1. My teaching philosophy starts with building a trusting relationship. I think if you can get that in place, you can get your students to do anything. Thanks so much for your positive feedback, Kristi. Means A LOT coming from you.

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  5. It sounds like you're the kind of teacher I'd want to have. That post made me feel warm and fuzzy :-) I especially loved this sentence, which resonates with me so much: "But I was single and worry-free (not really, but I look back and think I should have been)". Really happy to have met you through FTSF.

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    1. Thanks, Katia. We make worries with whatever we have on hand, huh? I didn't know real grief or trauma in those days, so in retrospect, it seems like such a beautiful time.

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  6. This is such a sweet post! I'm so glad you & your students had a great bond!

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  7. That is sweet that you are still in touch with them. Love this post ;-)

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  8. OK first of all that is awesome, she even looks like you! And also, I think that is so great that teaching those kids meant so much to you. It's always my fear about my son who has special needs you can't see, that a teacher will not be patient and empathetic with him. You rock!

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    1. I know what you mean about your own child's teachers. I have a child with special needs, too, and I worry so much about what school will bring. Here's hoping for loving, understanding teachers!

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  9. Wow, she does look like you! Before I read the story I assumed you were somehow related. What a funny costume and how beautiful that you have kept in touch with so many of your students over the years. To me that sounds like the sign of a great teacher.

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  10. what a great post...we need more teachers like you...(HUGS)

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  11. Sorry it took me so long to get to your post. Love it. The fact that Irene would felt comfortable dressing and acting like you in front of the school - and doing a splendid job - is so telling. What a great memory. Bet you can't believe it occurred way back in 2001.

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  12. Isn't that the truth, Kelly! I can't believe it was so long ago!

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