I retired from teaching in June 2008 and it was the best freedom I have felt since my childhood. No more mornings of getting up at 5 a.m. -- No more late days after work where I tried to finish up the day, get ready for the next day, or was just too tired to get out of my chair to go home. No more missing shows or being tired the next day if something came on TV the night before. And, no more short weekends where Sunday night felt like it was closing in on me with the work week ahead, or during the summer break when I started counting down the weeks left as early as the middle of July.
I know the public feels teachers are pampered and don't need those summers off, but they would be ready to "kill" if they were in an enclosed room with 30 teenagers, five days a week, for nine months, with only a half hour lunch and minutes between groups. Some kids were a joy as were their families. Others it was obvious were only at school because their parents could not trust them at home...and believe me, they seldom missed a day!
I love to hear parents at the grocery in August talking about how happy they are to have their kids back in school. This year I overheard some ladies in the Kroger bakery saying that and I chimmed in with, "Oh, you can't be happier than I am, retiring after teaching kids for 30 yrs!" which they greeted with laughter.
Although I had wanted to slip out quietly and even told thea rest of the staff, "Just don't block the door when I leave" they surprised me. On the last week of school they hosted a surprise party for me at a local restaurant and a large gift that I turned in toward a laptop computer...my first ever....it was all organized by a former librarian from our school, Ginny, who has more energy than anyone I know. She was also helping with her son's wedding, so it was a shock that she threw this in at the last minute. My friend Judy, who is my constant email friend (she's so witty! She's the emost self-efacing and honest person I think I know...has a very kind heart and the best memory for names and families in the area!) had to kidnap me at the end of the day as I had cancelled a coffee date with her, feeling I was too busy that last week of school.-----The seond was an ice cream party a teacher friend I called "my son" set up for our last day with students. I met Lee as a church usher for a wedding I attended. We taught next door to each other for five years, I saw him through dating to his eventual marriage and birth of his kids...a very nice young man. -----Then, the last one, was an all staff cookout the last teacher work day, where my old Santa lookalike friend Wil cooked over a hot grill and the rest was carried in...great food and teacher's kids were also a highlight. Afterward, I literally spilled the beans. I pulled a table back from the wall and watched in horror as my crock pot, still full of baked beans slid to the floor breaking into pieces and pouring out on the wall and floor.
But none were so perfect a sendoof than a gift given to me by my good friend Ginny, our school secretary. I had long kidded her about my favorite chorduroy dress she wore, so she cut up her dress and made me a travel pillow for the car. That was the only time I cried...she did too. I will miss Ginny so very much and be in touch with her forever. Talk about the shirt off your back! I think Ginny is the hardest working, sensitive, honest woman...she deserves Mother of the Year for the way she has helped her daughters...Amazing and kind...a true unsung hero.
There are a lot of people who felt I could not leave the job behind, and I admit I still will want to know the goings on at the jr. high, but I am so ready for this time in my life.