Monday, May 30, 2011

Manager's Choice

The last several days of the school lunchroom menu are labeled "Manager's Choice". Even a second grader knows this means they are cleaning out the freezers and every third student will receive a different offering for lunch. Let's just consider this little post as a BlogManager's Choice of some thisandthat and whathaveyou.

First off, look at what greeted me as I exited the school building on Friday:

People: it is not even June in Texas yet.
And speaking of hot, here is a view of my fireplace on Saturday afternoon:
A large raccoon took up residence in my chimney for about a month. I called animal control, but they said they could not come help unless the animal was loose in my house. (Everything heavy I own was stacked against the fireplace to prevent said entry, so that was not happening.) Anywoo, loyal brother-in-law finally resorted to a hot seat for the coon who rocketed out the chimney onto the roof in record time. My Facebook status that "The raccoon has exited the building" caused a neighbor two doors down to comment that he had ripped through her backyard when she was laying by the pool. So all's well now, right?
Well, except that night a large contingent of raccoons returned to the roof and fought over who got to take up residency next. I think my chimney must have some kind of coon hobo mark that welcomes the critters into the bowels of my home. Luckily, loyal brother-in-law has secured the screen with liquid nails and a boulder-sized rock. (He told me if I find the rock in the back yard that I should exit the building because a raccoon that strong should not be reckoned with.)
And one more former kindergartner graduate, towering over her former teacher. Heading to college to play soccer, she is as sweet as she is beautiful. Godspeed, EI!

I had a pedicure the other day. As the nail tech was painting my nails, an 80 year-old woman wandered in looking for "her" shade of polish. would be the same shade that I had chosen. I am clearly on the cutting edge of Memaw fashion.

My sister and I watched the last Oprah together. Loyal sister had posters up and buttons for us to wear at that little soiree. I never entirely drank the Oprah kool-aide, but who didn't have a tear when the men from Morehouse College poured in with candles while Kristen Chenoweth sang "(I Have Been Changed) For Good" the day before?

I was walking through my neighborhood early Saturday morning (see above temperature), and I came across a sweet older gentleman with a fireplace poker and an armful of American flags on dowels. He was poking holes and putting flags by everyone's mailboxes for Memorial Day. "My husband was in the service", I told him, and he gave me a flag to carry home. Happy tears on the journey back.

Today was Memorial Day and I was at school. Eating Manager's Choice. Because today was our bad weather make-up day. (But OH! that snow day in February was wonderful, and I tried to draft on that memory all day.) As luck would have it, our class was served chicken with bones. (Not to be confused with "tenders" or "fingers": real chicken.) The mashed potatoes, alas, did not have gravy. (It is probably being served with the mac and cheese or fishsticks tomorrow.) My class size continued to change all day from a low of 7 to a high of 12. (Most parents are home for the holiday and WHO ARE WE KIDDING? The report cards are already printed. ) Two more days and I am no longer a teacher...but I'll be a principal. Imagine that!
Happy Memorial Day, y'all.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Today would have been my wedding anniversary. Loyal sister and I had talked about maybe going out to eat to mark the occasion. In the end? I had decided to just let the day pass without fanfare.

The memories came without prompting on the drive to school this morning. I know I am so far down the road of grief: I am near the two-year point now. But wedding memories? Well, they are still a tender scar apparently.

Imagine my delight when my students arrived bearing flowers and cards this morning.

They brought the most beautiful blooms and hugs. The moms in my room are amazingly thoughtful. I'm not even sure how they knew May 24 was my anniversary. I know they didn't know I had yellow roses at my wedding. Or that they were the flowers D always gave me on anniversaries and special occasions. My eyes leaked a little bit, but they were happy tears and we had a wonderful day in second grade. (Only six to go!)
I want to show you another gift the parents in my room are giving me. They bought a crepe myrtle (my favorite!) and have asked present/former parents and students to write me a wish, blessing or poem and attach it to the tree outside my classroom.
With support like these wonderful people you can imagine why I love this class and school so much. And why my heart has healed so steadily over the past two years.

I am blessed in this life.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Graduation 2011

I may have mentioned a time or twenty that at the end of this school year, I will finish my classroom teaching career. I'm returning to a private school where I used to teach, but this time as the elementary principal. I am past excited.
One of my highlights of teaching there was this kindergarten class from 1998-1999. This picture shows "Come Dressed As Your Favorite Letter" Day. We were celebrating because everyone had learned all of their letters and sounds. ( My own children, who also attended this school, were in junior high at this time. I know they were thrilled to have their mother roaming the halls dressed as a blue M&M.)
Those kindergartners? They graduated from high school yesterday. I was honored to be asked to give certificates to the students who attended this school from kindergarten all the way through graduation. How did the time pass so quickly?
First day of school with GK...
...GK graduating. (She sang at graduation and has the voice of an angel.)
RW's first day of kindergarten.
RW graduating as salutatorian. (I am standing on a step next to her. She's grown a bit.)
JA on his first day of kindergarten...
...and yesterday as a high school graduate. (Nice tie.)
CB as one of my kindergarteners.
CB graduating yesterday. (She asked me to be her assistant at VBS last year, and it was one of the highlights of my summer)

Thank you, Class of 2011, for allowing me the privilege of being a part of your journey. I have kept up with all but a few of you over the years, and you've blessed me over and over again with sweet notes and visits. I cannot wait to see the plans that God has for each one of you unfold. I'm available in May 2015 when your college graduations roll around. Can't wait!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

An Ending and A Beginning

I have 11 more days as a teacher. That seems like an unbelievable thing to type because the classroom has been my home for 22 years.

I try to soak these last days in. It's hard because there is the usual end of year flurry of testing, entering scores online, paperwork and whathaveyou. It distracts from my view of watching the eyes of my students as they continue to discover something wonderful in each passing minute.I've been with this group of children and parents for two years and they feel like my family.They've ridden with me down the long and winding road since D's death, and they are forever imprinted on my heart. I'm thankful that I'm going out on a high note. Not that there has ever been a low note for me in teaching.

I'm awed because I know it was God's plan for me all along to be a teacher. I knew I'd be one when I was six years old, and have always felt like He led me down the path toward my first classroom. A classroom that included 38 fifth graders in an open area that included three other classes. I was in my early 20s and I loved it immediately. After almost 500 students, 10 campuses and untold colleagues, teaching is still a job I look forward to every day.

I spent hours this weekend beginning to sort out my classroom belongings. I had several piles going at once: one for the daughter of a friend who wants to teach early elementary, one for the daughter of another friend who is finishing her first years of teaching second grade. Another pile was of new books I stockpile each month through our classroom book order for two sweet girls who are in college studying to be teachers.

But the best pile? My favorite books held back for future grandchildren. (Married Daughter: no pressure.)

I halfway expected to be emotional during this task. I found that the excitement of my new job as principal outweighed any lingering loss or sadness. I did find myself thinking of this song often:

"Packing up the dreams God planted,
In the fertile soil of you,
Can't believe the hopes He's granted,
Means a chapter in your life is through..."

Looking forward to new chapters and new challenges. Pressing on.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Congratulations, Graduate!

Graduation season is upon us. Yesterday I had the honor and privilege of being invited to see one of my former kindergartners walk across the stage to receive his high school diploma.

How did those 12 years pass so quickly?
I've been blessed to watch so many of my former students grow into adulthood, and I'm always amazed at how the grown-up version is so similar to the young child I taught in elementary.

Five year old HH was polite, hardworking, smart, helpful, trustworthy, compassionate and loyal. The older "model"? Ditto.

Godspeed, HH. I've loved watching you grow up well in the Lord and I can't wait to see the plans He has for you down the road.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Turning of a Page...

15 days. This is the longest I've ever gone between posts on this blog. You may think my absence is either because I had nothing to say or because I had too much going on. Yes and yes.

You see, some rather huge changes have been working their way through my life in the past few weeks. I was offered a completely different job. And I took it.

I had to resign my jobs as second grade teacher in public school(I will finish the school year out) and Children's Pastor at a local church (my last Sunday was Mother's Day).

I've had to start cleaning out 22 years worth of teaching "stuff", because I will no longer be in the classroom. I have begun sorting out multiple piles to give to future and present teachers in my life.

(Edited to add: Thank you for so many sweet comments...Blogger erased all but the most recent ones.)

I've set my mind to enjoy every minute of these last days in a classroom. (Even though teaching in May is more conducive to hazardous duty pay.)

And I am saying good-bye to so much that is familiar and beloved.

But I am saying hello to something I have always wanted to do. And something I feel I am now far enough through my grief process to handle.

I am going to be an elementary school principal at a private Christian school within walking distance of my home.

To quote a very dear friend, "How often does God walk up to you and say, 'Here is the desire of your heart. Take it.'?"

So, I'm taking it and looking forward to pouring my life into this position. I am so very excited about this opportunity. And so very thankful, too.

"The vision is yet for the appointed time. Wait for will surely come to pass." (Habbakuk 2:3)