Every Ending is A New Beginning

“Thanks so much!” I stood and accepted the award that Becky and I had received, “Best Team Teachers”.

We were all assembled at long tables at a local restaurant celebrating our end of year luncheon with the staff of FR Elementary.   My usual cohorts were all assembled near me:  Michelle, my friend who planned on staying at FR another year; Christine, who was pregnant now with her first child and planned on leaving the school when her child was born in December; Laurie, who had spent her first year down the hall from me teaching third grade and whom I’d met years ago in college; and of course, Becky, my partner in crime who was leaving for Virginia next week to relocate with her husband.

“Not a surprise at all,” said Christine.  “You guys really did do a great job with your co teaching this year.  It does always make it all a little bearable when you have a friend.”

What everyone was not saying at all was that I too, was leaving FR Elementary.  I’d spent my last week quietly removing my personal items from my classroom.  I hadn’t told anyone outside of my circle of close friends at the school yet; I didn’t want to have any repercussions or altercations with my principal.

My interview with the new principal at the magnet school had gone off flawlessly; I’d raced down there before my school day even started at 7:30 in the morning one day.  I’d brought in my portfolio of lessons and photographs from my own classroom.  While teaching first grade was nothing like teaching at this magnet school of middle grades, it showed that I had energy and initiative.  I immediately recognized the principal’s style:  seemingly warm and friendly (certainly moreso than my current principal) but with an edge to her that had allowed her to move up the ranks in our public school system.  She was happy to hear I was friendly with Carol, because she liked Carol and recognized her as a strong teacher with a commitment to urban teaching.  Likely that weighed far more in my favor than any of my answers or materials I had brought with me.  A few days after my interview, the call came that I was being offered the position.  A school to school transfer within the system was easy; meant no change in benefits or pay scale; and could be completed after I’d finished moving out of my classroom.

And so I wasn’t entirely present as I ate my french dip sandwich surrounded by ebullient colleagues on this warm June day.  They were all ready for a summer vacation that would allow them to recharge their batteries.  One colleague was gleefully drinking a toast to his retirement; several more were looking at the light towards that end in their own tunnel.  Becky and Christine were toasting their new and different futures.

Me?  I too was looking at a bend in the road of my future, a new opportunity and hopefully a less stressful job.  I knew I was trading some of the problems of my job here for different ones there, to be sure.   But overall, as I thought of my tiny hatchback stuffed full with my reading chair and hundreds of paperback picture books, I felt like I was moving down the right road.

I looked over to see Paul standing with a glass in his hand.  “We’re all here today celebrating the end of the school year.  For many of us, this ending may be a relief,”  he paused for the obvious chuckles that were sure to ensue, “for some this ending may just be the beginning of another chapter.”  He raised his glass first to our retiree, then to his girlfriend Crystal, who was just starting to show her pregnancy.  “Let us raise a toast to all of us here today.  Let us celebrate the time we’ve shared together towards a common goal:  educating the children of our community.  We are all in varied places in our journeys.  Let God give us the strength we need wherever we may be headed. Let us ask for His blessings and thank Him for the graces that each of us has shared with one another this year.”

I looked up to see Paul’s gaze resting on me.  I gave him a slight nod, and watched as his chin imperceptibly did the same in my direction.   Applause erupted for his astute words; I joined in, looking at my friends gathered around me and feeling truly blessed that I’d had all of these people together with me as I navigated the scary waters of my first urban teaching position.  All of the good, all of the bitter, all of the difficult; it all melded together as I sat there.

I knew I was ready to move on.

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