Today is a new day. This school year is brand new. In many ways, it can feel overwhelming because the work we do seems impossibly hard and uphill most days. That’s the life of a teacher. Someone who can’t sleep because tomorrow is a big testing day or a school-wide performance… someone who gets their best ideas to reach children during their morning routine, and quite frankly, someone who can’t turn their brains off. Someone who is always thinking about other people’s children, even when they may have five of their own, yeah, that’s the life of a teacher.
The family I work with day in and day out, we don’t get accolades for the work we do. Many of us are leaders, innovative, and truly masters at our craft, but how would you know? We are not a school with a list of distinctions, unless you know that our principal made an individualized technology education program, that one of our first grade teachers makes raps to popular songs and has an uncanny way of teaching kids to read, our librarian empowers every student to become a reader, and the list goes on…. We have had numerous colleagues leave to become other school leaders, so many of us have more than one degree, and we even have an architect who would rather make a difference than a huge salary so she became a teacher! We are a campus of writers, mathematicians, and even magicians. There’s one crazy kindergarten teacher we have who specializes in making magical moments for her students, even before the year begins. We are diverse in our cultures, country of origin, and languages. We are a unique family of many perspectives, and I’ve barely tipped the iceberg when it comes to the people I call my work family.
We’ve lost teachers, we’ve lost students, we’ve lost spouses and marriages, and we’ve experienced intense pain and trauma, disease and sickness, but we all have one thing in common: We Won’t Quit. Sure, some staff have come and gone, but most of us stick together because in work we do, we have realized we can’t do it without one another. We’ve fought, we’ve cried, we’ve had to navigate through rough waters. We’ve left, we’ve come back. We have forgiven one another. And here we are, still doing what we can for the beautiful children that walk through our doors everyday. We have made goals, we have reached them, we have striven to make new and more lofty ones. We may not get to stand up for an ovation of awards, but we each know the sweat and tears we’ve invested into our community. When former students come back in search for us, we know our investment paid off.
But as a large community, we get in ruts, and we have to find our way out. We have to remember that our school belongs to all of us, our students, staff, leaders, parents, and community. The reality is that what we do, day in and day out, really matters for the Big Picture of life for so many. The things we teach and the people we touch will keep going far after our lives are gone because that’s the nature of our business. The pain we inflict can also alter the lives of each other, our students, and community. We can’t afford to grow resentful. We can’t afford to harbor bitterness or hold grudges. The work we do matters too much, even when we feel our lowest.
The truth is, we can’t afford to lose our saltiness, or passion to keep growing and going. We can’t afford to be apathetic when we see kids shrink back from learning. The truth is, we are in this together, and we must do everything we can in our power to make it right. We have to forgive, daily, offer clean slates, second chances, and strive to keep our thirst for a better life, a better education, one student at a time, one colleague at a time, one family member at a time.
Keeping it salty is tough. We need each other. We can’t be the light when we’re stuck in a dark hole.
I pray this year will be our finest, yet. Together. We are family, and I’m proud to call you mine.