As I Close the Door

Thirty two.  The number of times I have packed up my classroom.

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The teachers at my school have to pack up our classrooms so (over the summer) the custodians can throughly clean the desks, wipe down the book shelves, wax the floors and get everything looking spic and span for the next school year.  This year, however, is different because it is my last time.

It was also different because this is usually a happy and bustling time. Teachers at my school enjoy playing the game of “someone’s trash is another’s treasure” as we set items up for grabs that we no longer think we will use or just don’t have room for any more.  But this year there was a feeling of loss and emptiness. You see only a few teachers were allowed in the building at a time in keeping with the state mandates.  We also had to wear masks and social distance.  The silence was deafening.

Little did I know that March 11th would be my very last full day of teaching in the classroom. I would not get to experience the “this is the last time I will ____” moments.  Little did I know that for the next nine weeks the students would experience total online learning and never walk back into their third grade classroom.  The picture taken above was less than two weeks before the school closed down for the year.

As I unlocked the door, flipped on the lights, and (after being away for seven weeks) stepped into my classroom it was a very surreal moment. It was as if the scene had been frozen in time.  A forgotten jacket was left hanging on a hook, test papers neatly stacked on my desk were waiting to be returned, an abandoned lunch box sat on the shelf, desks were filled with books, pencils, and erasers. There were library books waiting to be read, miscellaneous art work and stories that had been written and proudly displayed ~ all waiting silently for the sweet faces of my students to come back.

It took me two days to pack up my classroom. Each child was supplied with one bag in which I placed the items from their desks to be given to them on a later date. Once that was completed I moved on to the task of getting rid of or finding a new home for teaching material.  I am not a pack rat so it was not as tedious as it could have been.

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When I completely finished I walked out the door and was about to close it when I decided to go back and sit at my desk one final time.  So many thoughts and questions began to go through my head. Did I do enough?  Did the children learn what they were suppose to?  Was I too strict or too lenient? Was I always fair, was I kind, was I patient, did they know how much I cared ~ even though I told them those words every single day, did they really know? When they look back one day remembering their time in my class will it be with a smile or a scowl?

I thought about the teammates I have worked with over the years.  I guesstimate I have worked with about 96 different women on my grade level alone over the course of my career.  Was I a good teammate?  Did I mentor enough?  Was I supportive enough? As time passed, it was eye opening when I realized some of these ladies were not even born when I started teaching.

Will my students and coworkers ever know how much they taught me? Patience, understanding, acceptance, humility.  I truly will miss the life and energy they brought each and every day.

Did I make the right decision to retire? Yes, indeed I did.  It is time – sometimes you just know these things.

I smiled as I got up and silently walked toward the front of the room and out the door. As I quietly closed the door one last time I momentarily paused, closed my eyes and thanked God for this incredible blessing/journey the last 32 years of my life.  I am not “Always a Wildcat”  I am “Forever a Wildcat!”

“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”– Fred Rogers

We Are Not In The Same Boat

 

As our circumstance continue to shift during this most unpredictable time in our lives, it is (in my opinion) important to try to see other people’s point of view.  Who we are, where we’ve been, and where we are today all lend to forming our perceptions of current circumstances in today’s world.  As the author of the brief essay below states, “We are all on different ships during this storm experiencing a very different journey.”

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The following essay is making its way through social media – I think it is worth the quick read. What do you think?

“WE ARE NOT IN THE SAME BOAT …

I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa.

For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflection, of re-connection, easy in flip flops, with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial & family crisis.

For some that live alone they’re facing endless loneliness. While for others it is peace, rest & time with their mother, father, sons & daughters.

With the $600 weekly increase in unemployment some are bringing in more money to their households than they were working. Others are working more hours for less money due to pay cuts or loss in sales.

Some were concerned about getting a certain candy for Easter while others were concerned if there would be enough bread, milk and eggs for the weekend.

Some want to go back to work because they don’t qualify for unemployment and are running out of money. Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.

Some are home spending 2-3 hours/day helping their child with online schooling while others are spending 2-3 hours/day to educate their children on top of a 10-12 hour workday.

Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it. Others don’t believe this is a big deal.

Some have faith in God and expect miracles during this 2020. Others say the worst is yet to come.

So, friends, we are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.

Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, actually seeing.

We are all on different ships during this storm experiencing a very different journey.”

-Unknown author

 

Getty Museum Art Challenge

During this time of social distancing, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California has challenged the art world to recreate famous works of art with objects found around their house.  Take a look at these!    I loved seeing all of their ideas!

This upcoming week our school art teacher is going to issue this challenge to our 4th and 5th graders as their art assignment.  She invited the teachers to participate so I asked myself why not?!  It was really fun!  The first set of photos are examples from our art teacher.  Didn’t she do a great job???

The one below is mine.

I can’t wait to see what the students recreate!

76 Years Ago Today

My precious parents on their wedding day in 1944.  Many people think their parent’s were the best ~ but mine really were and one of these days I would love to write about that.  They wound up being married 59 years before my dad passed away.  Mom followed four years later.

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I love this next picture taken when they were dating ~ photographers would often be on the streets and take photos of couples walking together.  Not sure of the exact date, but I am guessing it is around 1942 or 1943. Dad lived in Virginia so they courted long distance for about two years before they got married.  This photo was taken on one of his visits to see Mom.

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Just had to share these last two photos.  The first one was taken in 1925.  Mom is the littlest girl on the right and she was four years old and my aunt on the left is six years old.  I can’t help but notice their haircuts and dresses.  Must have been stylish in those days.  (The socks though – I wonder why no one adjusted them!)

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Dad was born in 1920 so I am guessing he was probably around 18 months – two years old in this photo.  I notice no diaper pins just tied in the front.

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Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!  I miss you and I love you both so very much!

Simple Joy

I was inspired by this story posted in the blog  Picture Retirement.  Suzanne has shared some beautiful photos and I encourage you to take a look – they are very impressive.

She wrote, “What lifted my spirits and made me smile this week is the realization that doing what we love doesn’t have to be put on hold. Our ability to adapt, be creative and find ways to breath new life into old hobbies and habits can turn a gloomy day into one filled with beauty.”  

I have been getting very restless spending so much time at home. M. is still getting up every morning and going to work so I am by myself.  Even though I am still online teaching my third graders until the end of May, it is not nearly the same rigor and pace as before the coronavirus left us no choice but to close our schools until next August.  I am the type of person who enjoys keeping busy.  Too much time on my hands + cabin fever = an unhappy me. Suzanne’s post encouraged me to look beyond, so I ventured outside to walk around my yard on this glorious spring day.  As I looked around, I was reminded of just how much I actually love being in my home and especially spending time outside in my yard.  I began to recognize all of the the simple things (that sometimes go unnoticed or taken for granted) which bring much joy to my days.

I love the time we spend around this table. Many laughs and much food has been shared from spring all the way through fall between M. and I, with family members, and with friends. The evening temps are still a little cold for us to start eating our dinners outside (which we absolutely love to do); but here lately, I make sure to eat lunch at this table or on the deck of our shed every single weather-permitting day!

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The furniture on the deck of our shed is so old and is getting rusty, but perfect for a quick lunch or a place to sit while M. cooks up something yummy on the grill.

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Some of the lovely flowers I spotted growing in my yard.

The Dogwood tree is full of blooms:

IMG_1110About three years ago, we found a pad of a cactus that someone had broken off.  M. picked it up, brought it home and planted it. Every year the plant gets bigger and bigger. Can you see the tiny lady bug on top?

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M. has a green thumb and can grow anything.  I, however, quote the plea in the photo below regarding anything I plant.

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I really needed this dose of slowing down and appreciating the very simple-beauty in my own back yard. Praise God for the simple joys!