Friday, April 4, 2014

TToT20: My Story

I have a lot I can write about with gratitude this week. Kristi. The weather and how we and our neighbors are emerging from our winter cocoons and interacting again. The possibility of new friends and how I found a new lighted, magnifying mirror for a non-ridiculous price. But I'm not gonna write about any of that.

I attended public school from 1981 to 1994 and college from 1994 to 1998. From 1998 to 2012, I taught and attended graduate school. I married a teacher. Even now, when I no longer teach, my daughter is in school, and my husband still works for a school system. We measure time in school years. And since 2012, in April, we remember. And we try to heal.

2011-2012 was a terrible school year. A formative year. A year we will always remember with horror. There is no understanding what it is like to live in constant fear. Not fear for our lives, but fear for our livelihoods, our reputations, and the home we'd carved out for ourselves in a community we loved. In April 2012, after eight months of plugging the dike with everything we could find to block the water, those began to fall away. All three were gone within the next few months.

I have another post due to Lefty Pop on Tuesday. I'm struggling. I want to tell this story, and I am limited to 800 words. It's impossible to do it justice. But I'd appreciate you hopping over to give it a read on Wednesday. Don't worry; I'll remind you.

But today, I am thankful. Because today we met up with several of the students (and their parents) my husband taught from August 2011 to April 2012. And it was glorious. One of the parents alerted us that the fifth grade classes, their teachers, and the school principal were visiting DC and would be at the Air and Space Museum this morning.

I'm not sure how to fully express how well my husband connects with his students. He has a gift for teaching like nothing I have ever seen. It has been nearly two years since he has seen most of these students, and he didn't even teach them for a full year, but when they saw them, they ran to him. They hugged him, they shouted, they climbed on him.

Most of the parents who came on this trip went to bat for us. To say these people are part of the reason we could get up again after our fall in 2012 is an understatement. These parents helped us, and they don't even know how much.

Our only concern was the principal. Not the mastermind (far too complimentary a term) of 2011-2012, but the whip. A woman whose morals did not allow her to question or hesitate when it came to exacting relentless punishment without merit. On the way, we discussed how we would respond if she dared to speak to either of us. We received a text from the mother who contacted my husband that the principal had asked that my husband not come to the museum. We responded that her days of dictating his behavior were over. And fortunately, my husband never even saw her.

I did. At one time, when a crowd of children were exclaiming and circling around my husband, I heard her call out grumpily, "We're here to see the museum, not Mr. ________!" I contented myself with a roll of the eyes.

And as we left, having seen nearly every student and parent we came to see, my husband said, "My heart is full. How wonderful to leave happy instead of angry! I'm glad I didn't see Mrs. _______."

This evening, my husband received a text from the parent who originally contacted him. She said she and her daughter were talking of my husband, and the daughter said she hoped to grow up to be a person like Mr. ________, the kind of person who makes a positive difference in the world.

These students just spent three days in DC. They saw wonders. But for many, the highlight will have been to see Mr. ________. And seeing them was his highlight, too.

Surely there were ten in there somewhere, right?


Ten Things of Thankful


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39 comments :

  1. What a wonderful day--it sounds like it must have been very healing.

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  2. Sounded quite perfect and by the way, it sounds like we are about a year apart, because I graduated high school in 1995. And yes, we definitely do measure life by school years (at least I did!).

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    1. I guess I'm not too surprised we're around the same age. School years mean more than calendar years when you're involved in school.

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  3. Wow, Sarah, it looks like your hubby has a wonderful knack for teaching! That is truly a gift to be thankful for. The ability to give to others is always great!

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  4. This was wonderful. I understand being torn down and then rebuilding and the way you wrote it was uplifting, xox jean

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    1. Yes. That is it. Thank you for getting it.

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  5. Oh wow. So lovely to find gratitude at the end of such a tough situation.

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  6. I remember teachers like your husband- so great!

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    1. That's the reason you remember some teachers, huh? Or because they were so terribly awful.

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  7. There were most definitely at least 10 and I love that your husband's students were so excited to see him. He must have made an amazing impact on them - and I wish all teachers were so very dedicated and caring about the people that matter - the KIDS. The principal sounds like a royal butthead. Just saying.
    and xoxoxo to all the other thankfuls. And thank YOU. For being you.
    xo

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    1. Hmph. Butthead is the kindest thing you can call her. By a mile.

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  8. I'm sure you have ten. And clearly a huge experience behind you. Did I miss something? Or is this what's coming Wednesday?

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    1. Oh, yes, next Wednesday. My story in severely shortened form. It's killing me to edit.

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    2. I'm sure it will turn out exactly as it should. You'll do fine!
      Teaching is a noble profession - and sometimes a thankless one. Not for the fainthearted, for sure. It can take so much out of you, but also be so very fulfilling. Sounds like your husband is one of the good ones - some days I think there are far too few of them around. Good to know the breed is still alive!

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  9. wow....says a lot about you both as teachers and human beings. Amazing. I'm with K2 it sounds like a healing experience for you both and the kids. And of course I am also of the K1 thinking....butthead, butthead, butthead!!!

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    1. K1 always sees straight to the heart of it. I told K1 that butthead is too kind a word. But she may not know she needn't watch her language with me!

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  10. Ten MILLION! That is amazing. My son only remembers a few of his teachers, for so many to remember and run to a teacher, he must be amazing! What a blessing.

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    1. The relationship between him and that particular class (and their parents) was unusually tight. It was a rough year.

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  11. Well, you could always follow in Lizzi's footsteps and make the guest post a 2-parter... :)

    What a wonderful day of closure and affirmation for your husband. (Did that sound too therapist? I think it did.)

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    1. Nothing wrong with sounding like a therapist! If I could get two parts, you better believe I'd spread it out!

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  12. Here's to healing! I am so glad it was such a gratifying experience for all.

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  13. What a wonderful story....and I'm very glad your husband's day wasn't ruined by the principal!

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  14. I think it's wonderful your husband has such a knack for connecting with the students. THey'll surely remember him throughout their lives. I can think of a handful of teachers that left a lasting impression on me. I think it's important for teachers to love what they do since kinds are so impressionable & it sounds like your husband has done a great job of that.

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    1. The teachers that love their work are the ones we remember, I think. I think there are other good teachers in the world, but those stand out.

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  15. 10 (the hard way*) But the story (that contained the 10) is surely something to be… proud (not quite the word)…satisfied (close but not correct)… happy with seeing that you can deal with people/situations (that are inferred) but not let them dictate your acts. very cool.

    * as in: no need for the Book of Secret Rules (aka Secret Book of Rules)

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    1. Thanks, Clarke. This story is very important to me.

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  16. Take that Mrs. ______! The mighty AmyCake and Dude might have fallen in 2011-2012, but they have long since risen!

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  17. You and your husband are brave and you are beautiful. I am so sorry that you had such negative experience and so happy that you were able to find this sense of closure. I have also had a very negative experience in my teaching career. But in teaching, the proof is in the pudding, and the students are the pudding. Needless to say, your husband is an amazing teacher. Mrs Moleface _ _ _ _ _ _ is drowning in jealousy of him.

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  18. Sarah, I've just been over to Lefty Pop and read your article. I am stunned, angry and so so proud of you for writing it. I gave me goosebumps. Your husband was the victim of the worst case of bullying within the school system that I have ever heard of. It goes beyond bullying - it's psychological abuse. I shared the article to twitter; it was too important not to.

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    1. Lizzy, this response means more than I can say. Thank you for believing me. Part of the pain of this year was that I could never say, "He's not bad! He's amazing! Everything is exaggerated or made up! There's some weird GroupThink mentality going on here!" You're right that it's psychological abuse. Too, too true. Thank you so much for tweeting!

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