The day dawned gray and dreary as I awakened for my last day of teaching. Somehow it seemed to fit my mood. My daily routine varied little from what it was 34 years ago. Wash my face, brush my teeth, put on make-up. Dress, eat breakfast, and head out the door by 7:15. As I pulled into my parking space, a drizzle began to fall, as if the heavens could feel my sadness and were crying with me. This was not a normal day. My students were either exempt from taking semester tests or else they qualified to take them early. I was left with too much "alone" time...too much time to reflect upon all the changes which had occurred during my tenure at West Burlington High School.
I grew up here. You could guess the decades from my school pictures in the yearbook. There were the long, straight hair years, followed by the "big hair" and shoulder pads era. During my twilight years, I traded in "high maintenance" for quick and easy. I started my career teaching in suits and high heels, and ended in casual slacks and sensible shoes. As a child of the '60's and '70's however, I never did trade in my eyeliner.
Teaching was never a job to me. It was a way of life. I had a gift of inspiring students to achieve to the highest of their abilities. They enjoyed my classes, and I enjoyed them. I taught future doctors, lawyers, nurses, factory workers, policemen, firemen, teachers, mothers and fathers. I buried eight students, and it was never easy. I touched their lives and they touched mine. And this was why it was time for me to retire. I wanted to leave while I still enjoyed it. I did not want to leave my profession filled with bitterness or hatred, nor did I want to dread going to "work" every day.
Amazingly, as the day progressed, the sun peeked through the clouds, and my reflections turned toward what the future holds in store for me. At the beginning of each school year, I always had my students list their goals. "Research shows us that if we write down our goals, we are more likely to achieve them," I would tell them. So this afternoon, after the books were stored and the room cleaned for my successor, I wrote down my goals for post-retirement. Many of them revolve around my creative passion. I am so looking forward to having the time to design and make cards. And I would love to belong to another design team after my time with the Dirty Dozen comes to an end. Some of my goals are business related, such as adding to my Stampin' Up! downline. I love the friendship that has evolved with many of my group. Of course, the teacher in me wants to serve as a mentor to them. I would so love to teach design and technique classes on a regular basis, as well as hold many more workshops. And of course, there is the all-important goal of spending more time with my son and husband.
As I took one last look around my empty classroom this afternoon, I realized that as one life ends, a new one begins. What I have learned these past 34 years are lessons that I can take with me into the future. They have shaped and molded me into the person I am today. And as my fellow teachers embraced me, as we said our final good-byes, as we shed our collective tears, I knew that I would be OK. This was not the end, it was a new beginning, a new adventure, a new page in my new life...a life free to create and inspire.
Starting tomorrow, my new life begins. I have a PPA card to design, next Tuesday's Pals Blog Hop and Blog Candy to prepare for, and a Dirty Dozen gallery just waiting for me to upload my cards. And did I mention a huge box full of my Stampin' Up! pre-order goodies just calling out my name? So it's off to bed after a day which has been an emotional rollercoaster. Until next time...