You always hear how people are brought into your life for a reason, and those individuals leave behind footprints forever embedded onto your heart. They leave their lasting mark, a reminder of who they are and what they meant to you when you were together. I have met such a person, and this post is dedicated to her.
I had only been teaching for 2 short years before I left SMS to propel myself out of my comfort zone. I remember the end of the school year 2006, when we had to clean up our rooms completely, and I recall looking around at the bare, empty, emotionless classroom and thinking that I wasn’t going to be here that following year. I don’t know what made me think that, but it’s honestly how I felt.
When I applied for a position at Brookside, I honestly had no clue what was to be in store for me. My only point of reference was SMS, and believe me, SMS was not a typical school by any means. So I really didn’t know what else was out there.
I was told the position was an 8th grade science position on the Academy of Technology. I had been teaching 7th grade, but I figured I needed to challenge myself some more. Also, the teams at SMS were named after animals – there were no strands, just animals. I always felt so left out when our team name was the Spinnakers. (It seemed like the Mustangs and the Tiger Sharks team names were more powerful and attractive to me.)
Needless to say, my interview went rather well when my future team leader shed a tear when she flipped through my portfolio and read the letters students had written me. One student who had written me a letter of appreciation was actually cut from my volleyball team, only to walk into my classroom and ask, “What do I need to do better so that I can play next year?” I put her right back on the team that afternoon. There was something about the team leader that really inspired me. She was a veteran teacher, but you could tell by the way she articulated the team philosophy that she was passionate about her profession. Far too often I have seen seasoned teachers lose the drive and determination because it just becomes too much work. I have taught with those teachers before and it is disappointing to watch because the kids are the innocent victims.
My team leader is absolutely amazing. I feel so incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to work with her for 1 year. She made me feel like my opinion mattered, which had never occurred to me or anyone else before because I was so inexperienced and many times my ideas involved too much effort. I have never felt more respected, valued and loved by a fellow teacher than when I worked with her. Her motivation, her insight, her experience – all of these things and more just motivates me to want to get to where she is someday and someday soon. She is like that wise sage who has tried everything, has seen the promise land and wants everyone to know how we can bring education there.
I know she feels like she could have done a better job this year, but what she demonstrated to me in those 180+ days was that she is an incredible educator. Thank you, Debbie, for being my inspiration, my coach, and my guide. I only wish I could have worked with you longer.