Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Teaching No More

In February of 2000, I received a letter from the school board wanting to know if I planned on being back to teach the following school year.  I felt in my spirit that I needed to respond in the negative.  But we were finally at a place financially where we weren’t living from paycheck to paycheck.  We were coming to a point where a new home rather than our single-wide would be more than a possibility.  I had health insurance, something I obviously was in desperate need of.  Things were looking good for us at least as far as finances were concerned and I could not bring myself to give up that financial security.  So I told them that yes I did plan on teaching at the Christian School the following school year.
Sometime in early May (I am not sure exactly when), I was called in to the principal’s office.  I liked him—a lot—so I was not at all nervous or worried about an opportunity to speak with him.
We exchanged pleasantries and then he began talking in a way that left me with my mouth open far and wide enough to let a normal-sized bat fly in if one had happened to be in the room at the time.  It took a couple of minutes for his words to sink in to my consciousness, but it finally hit me that in spite of the fact that I had said that I would return the following school year, I was no longer being asked by the school (or the school board) to be back.
The shock washed over me like a tidal wave.  I tried to hold back the tears, but I am not sure that I was very successful. 
I was told that I could not tell anyone, my co-workers and/or my students, of my imminent departure.  I had to keep that information to myself.
As one who has never been good at keeping secrets, this did not work for me.  Plus, I truly cared about my fellow teachers as well as my students.  It tore me to pieces that I was not allowed to tell them what was going on.
Then came the day when I had a back spasm so severe that I couldn’t breathe or move.  It took a good ten minutes or so before I
was able to catch my breath enough to begin attempting to work out the kinks.  I was still unable to move, but at least I was finally able to breathe.
I quickly realized that the spasm had come as a direct result of the stress I was under—the secret I was keeping.
I had a student close the door to the classroom and I told my students that I was not being asked back for the following year.  My students and I cried together.  Almost as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I was able to breathe freely and my back released.  I was still sore for several days from the spasm, but it loosened the moment I spoke the truth.
To say that I was devastated is an understatement.  I loved teaching at the Christian school.  I had made some great new friends.  I loved my students.  In spite of the fact that the principal is the one who told me I would have to leave, I loved and respected him and his family. 
On Awards Day at the end of the school year, I was given a
gift from the school.  As I walked towards the front to receive it, my precious students stood to their feet and gave me a standing ovation.
The wonderful part is that even today, I am in contact with many of my beloved students.  Social media has given me the amazing opportunity to keep in touch with them even though I may not get to see them or interact with them beyond the digital world.  They are still very special people in my life.
My depression worsened.
But I knew I had to look for another job and I had to do it as soon as possible.
I didn’t.

But God is good.  He is so very good.  And He has a plan; I just need to be willing and faithful to walk through the doors when He opens them.

*Picture of students have been posted without their permission, but I just had to share!  I wish I had more....!

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