Thursday, June 4, 2009

I am a teacher. Specifically, I am a fourth grade teacher. I am actually certified second through sixth grade, but I love fourth. Really I do. I love the age of fourth grade students. I love that they have their own personalities, that they still need some help, but can do lots on their own and I love that they still love their teacher. Or most of them do anyway. I also happen to the love my 4th grade team. In my opinion they are the best and like no other. We are all a little different and have different interests, but I think it's our differences that make us so compatible. 

4th grade team 

Our silly pose 
You gotta love this group!

I have been a teacher for a little over four years and since the beginning I have taught at the same school. I even did my student teaching there. It is a school that is very near and dear to my heart. Not only do I love my students and my team, but I truly love all of the staff and the administration. I feel so fortunate and so blessed to teach there. It's one of those jobs where you look forward to going because you get to do what you love doing and because you just get to be around great people. 

I assumed I would always be a teacher. I assumed that I would teach until it was time to retire - many, many years away. I do love teaching. I don't love all the meetings and paperwork and assessments and all of that jazz, but I do love sitting with my students and really teaching. This past August when the school year began I assumed I would teach up until December when Morgan Kate was due to arrive. I would take nine or ten weeks off and then I would return to work. That was the plan anyways. 

Thursday, August 14th was the first official teacher work day for our district. I always look forward to this day because by the end of the summer I am anxious to see familiar faces and catch up with everyone. My school usually tries to plan something fun for the first day back. This year we were supposed to wear our favorite t-shirt. I had a really hard time deciding what to wear. But in the end I decided on a shirt I had purchased over the summer. It was a white shirt and in red letters it read, "Due in December". I thought it was perfect. 

The first day back was really nice. We had a great breakfast and lunch. I got to see those "familiar faces" I had been anxious to see. I got to catch up with everyone's summer vacations and the latest gossip. We spent the day in catching up, eating and attending numerous meetings. It just so happened that I had a doctor's appointment that afternoon. You know the "Don't-worry-Travis-I'll-only-be-in-there-for-a-second.-It's-okay-if-I-go-alone" appointment. I had to leave a few minutes early so I left my room in sort of a mess. It was basically ready for students, but I still had name tags to make and posters to hang. No worry, I was coming back the next day.

Wrong. It was at that appointment that I realized I would not be returning to work anytime soon. I was on bed rest indefinitely. And little did I know that ten days later my "Due in December" baby girl would be arriving, fifteen weeks early. 

Since that day in August I have not returned to work. I took as much of my leave as possible and used all of my days from the Family Medical Leave Act. When all of that was said and done I needed to return to work in early January in order to keep my position. Well, that didn't happen. As of early January Morgan Kate had only been home for three weeks, she still required oxygen at all times, and she was being fed with bottles and a feeding tube. I was not about to leave her. My heart wasn't ready for it and I just wasn't comfortable asking someone else to feed her with the feeding tube. Can you imagine that conversation? So, I resigned. It was a very tough decision because like I said before, I just assumed I would work, have Morgan Kate, take some time off and return. Besides like I also said, I love fourth grade, I love my team and I love my school. 

Several months ago I had to make a decision about next year. Boy, was this tough. I agonized over this decision for weeks. I prayed, I cried, I prayed some more. I asked God to send me a clear, clear message. Something in flashing lights would really be good. I needed to know in black and white what decision to make. Unfortunately, God doesn't always make things so crystal clear. I had to do a little thinking of my own and a little soul searching. And in the end I decided that I wanted to spend one more year at home with Morgan Kate. It's what I think she needed and ultimately what I need. 

That brings me to this week. Remember the room I left sort of in a mess, but basically ready for students? Well, my co-workers all jumped in and finished the room. And two wonderful women filled in and took over as "teacher". This week I had to go and pack all of it up. It was something I thought I was ready for, but I really wasn't. Walking into the school on Wednesday was emotional. A flood of thoughts and memories all came rushing back. I felt like it was August 14th all over again. Packing up my stuff was overwhelming too. First, I have way too much stuff. More stuff than any person really needs. Second, it just felt so awkward to pack my things up and move out of "my room". And third, I hate goodbyes.

We had lunch at school today and a farewell to all of those that are leaving. Each year we do this. We have lunch, we socialize and then we say goodbye to those who will not be returning. I have always been on the other side. Today I was on the "goodbye" side. And I must say it was overwhelming. I know I am making the right decision for my family and for me. I know that more than anything I want to be with Morgan Kate. But it's still hard. It's so hard to say goodbye. And I do plan to return, but as I know all too well, we never really know what's in store or what's right around the corner. So today was tough. It was emotional for me. My school and my coworkers are amazing and it's hard to say goodbye to them. It's as simple as that. 

I pray that when the time is right and I do return to work that there will be a spot for me. And even if there isn't there will always be a spot in my heart for LMES and all of the people there.  


Anonymous said...

I was so glad to see you today! You looked great! We will miss you next year. Continue to update the blog so that we can keep up with y'all. And if you ever need anything please call!
Wendy H.

Justin and Jessica Jones said...

Okay...I thought I was finished with the tears, but here I go again. I will miss you SO much. You are an incredible teacher, and I have seen it first hand. I know that you will be back one day because teaching is something that is part of who you are. But, an even bigger and more important part is your role as a mama. Nothing you ever did or will do in the classroom is as important as taking care of your family. I have had tough decisions before that I prayed and asked God to give me a sign for, so I totally related to that portion of your post. But, Justin always reminds me that God created us with hearts and minds and that he expects us to use them to make the best decisions we can and then trust Him to control and work through the things we can't. Your strength through this difficult time period has been an inspiration to so many people, and I know that when you do come back to teaching you will be able to love your students even more because your heart just grows when you become a mom. I know that my teaching style changed when I had kids of my own, and I bet you will see your future students with new eyes too. I love you, and you know we will keep in touch.

amanda pyle said...

When I read your blog this morning, I couldn't help but shed a few tears for you. Teaching is definitely a job that is done out of love, and to have to leave that part of your life behind (for now) is difficult. Oh the other hand, you have taken on another job that is so amazing. While I know it's hard to leave behind children, a team, and a school that you love, know that God always has a plan for us - and one day it might be for you to return to LMES.
In the meantime, if you ever feel the need to get back in the classroom, feel free to come visit me and my students:) Lots of love!

sherry pyle said...

Well I know yesterday was hard.
I always say great teachers are born not made.
There has to be a passion there.
When I see the plaque on the wall of your name being Teacher of The Year I'm happy but sad that you didn't get to really enjoy it.
Yet, you made a good decesion.
Morgan kate will be growing faster than you can imagine.
I think there are so many sacrifices in being a Mom and we give so much but I know you wouldn't trade a single secong with your girl.
I was in the process of writng a book when my first Grandchild was born. With guranteed publication. Yet, I didn't hesitate to take care of him while his Mom worked. Then when Blakley came along I just couldn't let anyone else take her unless she could be loved like we love her. her Grandfsther and I decided we'd keep her also.
Yes, my dream of writng could be realized,yet today eight years later I still haven't done the book.I'm not even sure the offer now stands, probably it doosen't.
Being the Grandmother I use most of my energy with them.
I wouldn't trade one second with them for ten books published.
I know if I am to write the time will come. In fact there are a few articles in the works. I will have more time next fall.
Whats the point of me telling you all this.
What you already know!!!The sacrificing never stops because we love our children and are committed to their well being. The foundation for their lives is so important.
So we happily are not called by our names instead we are known as Morgan Kates Mom or as one child at school called me Granny.
God has blessed us so much.
Your talents are greatly missed at LME. In time just maybe you can go back.
For now we happily face the challenges of loving and making a lasting difference in the children's lives God has intrusted us with.( for me as a Grandmother)
You have done an amazing job with Morgasn kate. Just look at her smile.
I love to look at her!!!
God gave us all a special gift in Morgan kate.
He also gave her an amazing set of parents and Grandparents.
Have a great weekend.

Lori said...

I am new to your blog. But this post touched my heart, praying for this new change and may God bless you. Change is hard especially when you are leaving behind something you love.

THE SPIVEY"S said...

I have to say that I will truely miss you at LMES. I know that we have been friends since I started there three years ago, but I feel that since we got pregnant at the same time our friendship has grown. We are really going to miss you but will certainly keep in touch through our mommy and me play dates and blogs. If you need anything please let me know.