What Comes Next

I was sitting in the same classroom I’d sat in ten years ago, a student once again.

I could see Mr. Vance’s handwriting still on the chalkboard, the same lessons as when I took his Advanced Composition II class:  weekly vocabulary drills to prepare us for the SATs, journal assignments about current events to be turned in twice a marking period, and classic literature to be read and written about on a regular basis.

Except Mr. Vance wasn’t my teacher now.  I was in his classroom after hours, taking a class towards my Master’s degree in School Administration.  The university I attended was actually sixty miles away, but they held satellite classes locally in my home school district.   This particular class started at 4:30 pm, which was a good time frame for most teachers.  My brother had agreed to pick Zachary up from daycare for me since the class let out after the program at school closed. Fortunately, my brother lived just a mile from my old high school, so everything was working well for all of us.  Z loved hanging out with his uncle, who pretty much allowed him to play video games the whole time and hardly ever remembered to ask him if he had any homework.

My classmates varied in age from 25 to 65, most of us working locally as classroom teachers.  I found it interesting to speak to them and hear what life was like in other school districts.  I still couldn’t be happier with my job, having had a seamless start to my second year teaching 8th grade math at a suburban middle school a few towns away from where I lived.

My coworkers were so similar in age to myself, I found myself encouraged to see several of them completing the same degree work I was in.  One of my favorite co workers, in fact, this year was our new assistant principal.  Two other colleagues were conducting job shadowing of other principals in the district, the last step towards finishing a degree in administration (much like student teaching capped off an undergraduate teaching degree).  In them, I could see room for advancement and support for stand out teachers within my school district.  One of the colleagues was a single parent by choice, which was even more inspirational to me.   Her ability to juggle her classes, her job shadow, and her young son gave me hope that in a year or two I might be able to do the same.

It seemed rather ironic to me that I would be sitting here, seeing another path to my future close enough to touch, in the same classroom where I’d started dreaming of a very different future.  The last time I’d sat in this room, I thought I’d be a musician, or at the very least a music teacher.  As I’d written endless journal entries and term papers, I had dreamt of my four years at Michigan State:  a traditional trajectory.  My mother had been alive and healthy and so supportive of my dreams that had changed by the minute back then.  I couldn’t even imagine how so many events would converge to change and twist my path.

Still, as everything flashed through my head, I couldn’t call the overriding emotion I was feeling sadness, or regret, or even disappointment.  My wistful musings led me to a much different place.  I felt strong.  I had survived much in the past ten years since I’d last sat in one of these chairs.  I had stopped believing a straight and clear path was in my future, but I had faith that whatever lay down that path in my future, I would make the best of it.

I put my head down, opened up my notebook, and readied myself for what came next.


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