Under normal circumstances, the last day of school is an exciting and happy day, for students and teachers alike. Kids get a break from the hard work that learning is, and teachers get a much-needed opportunity to reorganize, clean up, plan ahead and create. But today, as the kids left and we had our final faculty meeting of the year, I found myself sad instead of happy.
For me, the countdown began at 12:15. I am now in my final year as a music teacher. It’s not a bad thing. I’ve been at this for 30 years, and that’s a long time to do anything. In my opinion, it’s an especially long time to teach, and I’ve been aware for several years now that my time is drawing to a close. But…I see today that I have felt throughout my career that I would always be a music teacher. For years and years, not only was my vocation permanent, in my mind, it was a big part of who I am, of how I define myself. Suddenly, it’s temporary.
In addition to that, I have always been blessed with colleagues who are not just good teachers. They’re good people.
There’s a sense of community where I teach, that almost keeps me safe from the outside world. At my school, without fail the teachers and staff treat each other with courtesy, pitch in to help wherever and whenever they’re needed, support each other and work as a team. The reality is that you don’t find this in every school, in every workplace, and certainly not out in the big world. In a world where dog eats dog and the competition to get to the top trumps every other value, I have been blessed to work in a place where people actually help each other.
As I cleaned my room this afternoon, I couldn’t lose the thought that next year, I won’t be cleaning up. I’ll be cleaning out. In not so dramatic a way, it reminds me of that question, “If you knew you only had a year to live, how would you live it?” I only have a year left with the children, colleagues and friends who have made my life complete. I hope I live it well.