Thursday, August 20, 2015

NOT Back to School

This is the time of year that makes trips to the grocery store, with school supplies prominently on display, painful. Back to school, ugh. So much anxiety and preparation. Anticipation, too, of seeing favorite students and co-workers again and seeing what the new school year will bring.

But not this year. I quit. No mas Rowlett High School.

I haven't done a big announcement or thrown the "I quit teaching" parade because I wasn't quite sure how I felt about it and was even more unsure on how explain why.

I just finished my 10th year at RHS, 11 years teaching French and was by no means planning on quitting or changing schools or any other drastic measure until the last few weeks of the year. For the most part, I really enjoy teaching. I feel like I'm good at it. Okay, that's false modesty. I'm a kicka** teacher. I made learning French a challenging, entertaining, engaging experience. I connected with 97% of my students and really had them participating from bell to bell, every.single.day. And it was exhausting. I was up nursing the baby and off to work before dawn, teach like a swarm of bees, then come home, run on the treadmill and help Casey finish making dinner. Eat, clean up, put Gigi to bed, then Indiana, and finally have an hour or so with Casey or to myself before bed. Rinse and repeat. Saturdays, I'd get up super-early to do a long run (12-22 miles), then make a grocery list while trying to eat, hit the grocery store with the whole family, feed the kids lunch, then finally rest. On Sunday, mounds of laundry and lunches for the week to make. Clean up.

This is life, I know, for lots of people. I was more than content doing it. I even had a student tell me that I was different because I was happy all the time. Who wouldn't be? A good stable job, two beautiful kids, loving husband, lovely home and enough free time to keep training for marathons. Piece of cake.

But, there were lots of things I wanted to do, but couldn't. Like take Indiana to school. Or at least know what was going on with him at school. And be home in the mornings to dress sweet Gigi who spent the first year of her life in jammies, pretty much. And to be there to take Indiana to his first day of school. Or to do Giselle's hair before school, when she starts. And take them to activities. And to have time to really talk to my husband. And go to doctor's appointments for crying out loud.

There was never enough time or enough emotional energy for everything and everyone, and I felt like Casey was definitely getting the short end of the stick. He was trying to work in his workout with taking care of Indiana in the morning (Gigi sleeps in, God bless her) then take Indiana to school after Mom got to the house. After school, someone from Casey's office would pick Indiana up, and Indiana would be at Casey's office watching Netflix, eating jelly beans for an hour or two. They'd get home, and I'd usually be on the treadmill, so Casey would start dinner. And he NEVER complained about it. Or hardly ever.

But, then his office started picking up more and more business, he'd come home later and later, saying he just couldn't get it all done. He was bringing stuff home on the weekend too, sometimes, along with going to evening board meetings a couple evenings a month. Not a lot of down time, but the good part was, he was doing a ton of work and getting paid to do it.

We met with a financial adviser in April, and he kinda off-hand mentioned that I didn't need to work, but we didn't take it that seriously then. He ran the numbers again for us in May, and then we really started to talk about me going part time. So, I asked. I figured it was a good time. RHS was about to change to block schedule for coming year, and they had finally hired a second French teacher who was only teaching French half the time.mSo, I proposed teaching every other day the upper level classes.

I even had my students fill out a survey on SurveyMonkey about my classes and brought it with me. They wrote stuff like "I wish my teacher knew that....'she's a great teacher'." I didn't even have to offer extra credit for that. Plus, I figured they wouldn't let a Dual Credit teacher (as in, someone with a Masters degree in their teaching field) out of their hands. But I was wrong. I kept asking up the chain and waiting for responses, but I also started packing up my room. I got the final word on the second to last day. Garland ISD does not have part time positions. And the response was in the tone of, "We told you we don't do part-time. Why are you asking?"

Therein lies one of the real problems. I liked my job. I liked my co-workers. I liked my students. I did not like my bosses. Or their bosses. Rowlett had gone from a big family to a big factory, it felt, and the student demographic was changing too. For the first time ever, I suspected that there might be a drug deal going down in one of my classes, or at least, that I had students that were selling drugs at school. I reported it but was never told what was going on. Because, why would they tell me? That's what it was like. And that's a shame. Lots of teachers left RHS this year. I quote the principal at the last faculty meeting, "too many to name." That's sad. For the good kids and the good teachers still fighting the good fight. There are many of them still, and if you're one of them, I salute you. And, you should probably stop reading here.

Because I'm ecstatic. I drove away from RHS with my car packed to the gills and thought, "That's the best decision I ever made." Sure, sure...husband, kids, etc. But those weren't gut-wrenching decisions. I'd always wanted to be married and have kids. I'd NEVER wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and told everyone I knew so. Sour grapes, I'm sure they were thinking. But I'd been awake restless thinking about it for the two weeks it took from asking for the part time position to the last day. Oh, and that last day nearly killed me. Sad good-byes, hugs, well wishes and "but you're the best teacher I have" and "your class changed my life!" Killing me. I cried and cried. Until I left that parking lot.

Because this is my life.
Morning runs outside. Legos with Indiana before taking him to school. Knowing his teachers and what's going on. Friday morning yoga.
Plenty of time to do what needs to be done, but enough time to slow down and enjoy the moment. Take a picture with a giant mango. Or dance in the kitchen. Make whole-wheat oatmeal bars and low-sugar snacks for my kids. 
And watch baby girl, 15 months old, walk. Yes, Karime, (former RHS student) I am happy. And my kids are happy. And Casey, too.

1 comment:

Sarah Heckman said...

We are glad that you made this decision! It's sad to see Rowlett go from a "family to a factory," you were always one of our favorite teachers! Your family is adorable and we wish y'all the best. Audrey&Sarah Heckman