Appreciating Transition.

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week; a much awaited week by teachers everywhere, full of free food and “thank yous” from many. It is during this week, this very day, that I find it appropriate to write this.

I am finishing my fifth year as an educator this year. I have worked in three schools and districts, in magnets and in neighborhood schools, devoting these last five years of my life to teaching children in Title I schools around the Triangle. There have been times it has been thankless, times it has been overwhelming, and times when it has been inexplicably rewarding.

One day, I really do think I’d like to write a book about all of these moments, but I’m sure if you read my blog you’ll get the gist. ūüôā

It is with a heavy, excited, terrified, and overjoyed heart that I share with you that come fall 2017, I will not attend Open House or spend countless hours reorganizing a classroom to house children.

I have formally accepted my admission to Vanderbilt University, and in August, I begin my graduate studies in the field of Education Policy.

I honestly don’t think I can tell you how many tears I shed over this decision — happy tears, sad tears, anxious tears. So happy that I have the opportunity to study something about which I am so passionate at a place that has the strongest program in the nation. So sad that I am leaving a place that I love so deeply; a place full of friends and family and sweet memories. Anxious that I don’t have logistics fully realized yet, like where I will live and when I will move.

It is very accurate (and mildly clich√©d) for me to say that I would not be in this current position without the educators¬†in my life. Without Sanchez Johnson telling me that leadership isn’t about titles but about the way you life. Without Alex Drake assigning a crap-ton (technical term) of Brinkley APUSH readings regularly, which¬†probably ultimately prepares me for my moment in graduate school (hindsight is always 20/20). Without Gary Mace pushing me to become a better writer. Without Joan Gale giving me a chance to be a peer mediator/helper, equipping me with skills to listen and communicate effectively in the midst of crisis (for whatever it’s worth, middle schoolers go through a LOT of crises regularly — both silly and serious). Without Lana Siefring sketching pictures in class and reading stories, cultivating creativity and showing me what an outstanding teacher looks like and inspiring me to be one, too. Without educators in my schools having high expectations for me, there’s no way I would have accomplished half of what I have today, and for that I am humbled and grateful.

I found it appropriate to share the news of my graduate studies pursuit on Teacher Appreciation Day, for it is precisely my deep love and respect of this job that is pushing me outside of Lab 209. I love what I do too much to continue to sit idly and watch students not receive appropriate services because of poor legislation and to see my colleagues work long hours at school only to drive to a second job after the bell rings.

To my former teachers: thank you. To my current colleagues, friends, and family in the world of education: thank you. To my students and their families: thank you. I am beyond grateful for your love, your support, your time, and your dedication to bettering the lives of others. May we continue this service for many years to come, in any capacity we can.

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quarter-life mini-crisis?

so i’m not really experiencing a real crisis per se, but i am realizing that i am coming up to a crossroads. i start my senior year at carolina in a month or so and i am beyond excited! i’ll be student teaching at a great elementary school in my top grade choice (fourth grade represent) and i will be working with an amazing cooperating teacher. i’m super stoked to start working in the office again and i’m definitely looking forward to¬†having so many new coworkers in the community (yay new friends!). despite all of this excitement though, i have to start thinking even more ahead.

do i need to take the gre soon? do i want to go to grad school right after i graduate? where do i want to go to grad school? how am i going to pay for grad school? where am i going to live? where will i teach?

i know a lot of those questions can’t be answered anytime too soon (like where i’ll teach — i have an idea of where i would like to teach, but we’ll see what God has planned), but if i’m wanting to do grad school then i’m going to need to take the gre as soon as i can, and if i want to do grad school right after i graduate then i need to start looking into applying and whatnot.

teachers, friends, and teacher friends, i employ you all for your opinion on this matter.

i’m wanting to do some kind of education track for grad school — maybe social studies education, curriculum and instruction, or literacy and language education.¬†a good deal¬†of the programs i’ve looked at already didn’t require classroom experience before applying (some of the schools i’ve looked at include uncw, uva, auburn, uga, wfu,¬†elon, unc, etc. — i’m sticking to the southeast for the most part i’d say, though i’d like to stay in north carolina if i do grad school right after graduating since i need to teach in a public school for two years in state), so i’m definitely looking for some guidance.

my biggest fear is that if i don’t go back immediately then i won’t ever go back. i’ve heard so many stories about people saying they’ll go back later on down the road and then they never do, whether it’s because they don’t want to anymore or something in life just happens. i want to go back. i love learning. i want to be the best teacher i can be.

so, what would you do if you were in my position?