Yesterday, I learned that one of my sweetest friends passed away unexpectedly. She was exuberant and vivacious, so incredibly full of life, and to hear that she is gone is just…numbing.
I met Leslie when we worked at the same district. She was the Instructional Coach for ELA at the district, so I spent many hours with her, under her guidance and tutelage as I learned how to incorporate the “district way” of writing into my overflowing toolbox of teacher tricks. That same year, I was overgoing a bit of an overhaul, personally, physically. She joined me on that journey and we spent afternoons walking Cosmo Park, talking and laughing.
It was in those walks that I learned just how incredibly lucky I was to be in her presence. You see, Leslie’s world…her people orbit around her. She is the guiding light, the person whom 6-degrees of separation stems off of. She wasn’t narcissitic or egotistical, people were just naturally drawn into her gravitational pull…because that’s exactly what it was – her ENERGY drew you in. All in.
All in. Just like Leslie, who committed to everything and everyone 10000%. There was no half-in, half-out with her. It was all or nothing. And I am so incredibly grateful that my five years of friendship with her has felt like a thousand lightyears. I just wish I could have a thousand more.
You will be missed beyond measure, Leslie. Forever and always, my bubbly, unconditionally loving friend you’ll be.
Okay, Kristine, we get it. You were insecure and measured yourself against others’ success instead of your own. We’re human – we all do it – so, what?
I realized I spent my three years running away. I taught a zero-hour class, which meant I was free and clear by 1:20 p.m., every day. And as often as I could, I hauled ass away from the school by 2:00 p.m. – mainly because I had college classes to teach beginning at 2:45 p.m. This was all fine and good — but it got to an unhealthy point where I booked myself solid, maxing out on the number of classes an adjunct can teach in a given semester (9 credit hours), all for what purpose?
To prove my MA wasn’t a waste of time or money? To prove that I can teach secondary AND post-secondary students? To whom? Myself? My peers? Why? What were the benefits?
I honestly do not know.
What I do know is that if I had stayed, I would have continued this unhealthy pattern of running away and avoiding reality. My leaving was more about my sanity than it was to move on from somewhere where I felt like I was constantly being judged, raked through the coals, and spit out. Let me go on record to say that my department chair, my department, and my principals were all phenomenal — they were my reason for remaining sane. However, it was the constant struggle against a machine that wasn’t privy to my daily contributions that squashed my will to stay and fight.
I focused my energy on my “why” — reflecting on the reason(s) for having a mid-life career change into this beautiful, wonderful field that I call “home.” I landed at a 7-12 secondary school, teaching 8th graders (middle schoolers are FUN!), and falling back in love with my craft. I stopped being an adjunct instructor because my cup was being filled at my “day” job. I stopped running away and I stayed put.
What I found at the end of this year was a school I want to retire from, my “forever school.” I have felt more support and unspoken recognition than I’ve felt in the past couple of years, and I finally heard, “You’re the expert, we trust you.” And to me, that’s priceless.