Yesterday my school said goodbye to 7 retirees. We awarded those who had served the school for 10, 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40 years. And we wished happy landings to our Chairman of the Board who is stepping down after 13 years of service. We also said Auf Wiedersehen to those teachers moving on to new positions around the world.
One of the things that was missing in my last school was this feeling of tradition and longevity. To be fair, the school was only 25 years old. But there seemed to be no deep rooted traditions, no protocols to recognize those teachers who had committed their lives to the school, no way to say goodbye to those who were moving on. Things always seemed to be in a state of flux rather than being rooted in a culture and tradition that was well established.
And maybe that is what I miss most about being a part of a school district in the states. There were always long-standing traditions that punctuated the year. There were always the stories from the days of yore like, “Remember when Mr. X dressed up as Wonder Woman because…” Or “Remember when the old high school used to be on the corner of Street X and old Mrs. Y…”
Spending the last evening listening to the stories of those who committed years of service to our school community left me in tears of both laughter and sadness. It left me humbled, uplifted, and encouraged that I was in the right place.
Some will say that teachers make too big of a deal about the work they do with students. Some will say we talk too much about the lives we touch and the tears we shed for our kids. Some people will say, “Well aren’t all professions like that? Aren’t all passionate people committed to their place of work?”
We teachers are too emotionally involved in our work. We are fathers, mothers, mentors, and friends to our students. We work long hours at school and long hours at home planning for classes, marking student papers, and worrying about the lives of our young wards.
So today I am welling up with gratitude. I am grateful to be working in a place of tradition. I am grateful to be working in a school that recognizes both students and teachers for a job well done. I am grateful to be working in a place that surrounds me with brilliant colleagues and friends. I am grateful that although some of these brilliant colleagues are journeying off to other continents or stages of life, we will still collaborate with each other to make our classrooms the best they can be.
Farewell Ian, Greg, Stephen, Stephen, Steve, Jess, Farah, Christopher, Greg, and Teresa. I will miss your your smiles, presence, sage advice and laughter. Good luck in your new adventures!