Up until last night, I was 100% certain that I was not going to write a year-end blog for a number of reasons. First of all, I have only had a blog ‘presence’ for about 2.5 months now, so I figured that my review would be, uh….blah. Then I thought, people aren’t going to be reading blogs on New Year’s Eve anyway, so what’s the point? Yep, I decided that I would start blogging again after the New Year. Well, it just so happened that one of my friends, Jose Vilson, was posting updates on Twitter about his progress on completing his year-end review. I was thinking, ‘I can’t wait to read it; he’s really honest and a great writer. I don’t feel like doing one though.’ I remember one of the updates mentioned that he was at 1,500+ words or something like that (overachiever). Me thinking: ‘Damn, he must have a lot to say about the year. But I am not doing one.’ So I waited for him to post the link. As always, his words/thoughts were thought provoking and made me think about my life in 2009. Damn him!
After I logged-off late last night, I started thinking: What did I accomplish in 2009? Did anything exciting happen to me? How did I spend the year? Well, the end of 2009 marks the third consecutive year that I have been unemployed. Exciting, huh? I know inquiring minds want to know: Why are you not teaching? Long story short: I briefly worked for the Newton County School System in Georgia; my kids also attended school there since I commuted everyday. My oldest, who is now 14, was in middle school at the time. Those who teach that age group are well-aware of the trials and tribulations of pre-pubescent kids, so I don’t need to describe the atmosphere, as it relates to kids. As a parent, I do my best to teach my kids how to best interact with people. I know there will be conflicts and two days later, they will be friends again. However, the kids were not the issue: It was the ‘adults’ who crossed the line. I had a serious problem with adults making inappropriate comments to my son because it’s (1) unprofessional and (2) just downright ignorant. If you have a legitimate concern, then you should address the parent, as I was expected to do as an employee of this same system. After addressing my concerns, the taunts continued.
Things escalated when I had to be out for minor surgery; the same teacher refused to excuse my son’s absence since it was not ‘life-threatening.’ Despite the fact that he did not have an absenteeism issue, my appeal (to the director of secondary schools) was denied. Anyone who knows me, knows that I never take no for an answer. I did some research and found out that the first absence was excused by the Attendance Secretary, but the second was not. Some of you may be thinking, ‘Well that’s minor it was only one absence.’ That one absence resulted in my son receiving zeros for every assignment he missed that day, which dropped all of his grades 1-2 letter grades. Here’s the dilemma: My son worked very hard to maintain B’s and two high C’s, now they were D’s and F’s. Would it have been fair to say: ‘Suck it up!’ No because he was penalized for my illness and the fact that they knew I was an ‘involved’ parent (that was sarcasm). After more research, I learned that one of my own students was absent 2 days before and 1 day after Labor Day. All of his absences were ‘excused’ and he was allowed to make-up his work. Fast forward: I enlisted the assistance of the Office for Civil Rights. Attendance and grades were corrected, but only after several admonitions of the district by OCR. End result: The district now refuses to provide a reference for me. So here I sit: A Special Education teacher with advanced degrees, excellent teaching abilities and superior classroom management skills, unemployed after 3 years. Yep. It’s time to put it out there so I can move on. I am ready. God has already moved some people around and out of that organization, there is nothing else I can do but let it go. On a positive note: My oldest son and I are still home schooling, without incident. I have threatened to put him out, but I haven’t made good on that one…yet. I think he still likes me for the most part. I have the feeling that when he transitions back into a traditional high school next year, he will tell me that he doesn’t like it.
As we welcome the New Year, I have to agree with Jose in that I can’t help but wonder if I am leaving ‘…too much on the cutting room of this movie we call our lives. None of the lessons get left on the floor, though. They stick around, secretly making their way into our laments and celebrations,’ (Vilson, 2009). For me, I know that I will truly never leave anything behind. Every incident and experience, positive or negative, have collectively played a part in who and where I am as I sit here typing these words. I am learning to be grateful for them all, even on the days when I wonder if I will ever be able to teach again. Saying goodbye to 2009, I eagerly look forward to 2010 and commit to being ‘..steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain for the Lord,’ (I Corinthians 15). Even though I may feel or appear to be alone, I know that He always has my back!
Have a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year!