“My future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend, Marilla. I wonder how the road beyond it goes–what there is of green glory and soft, checkered light and shadows–what new landscapes–what new beauties–what curves and hills and valleys further on.”
~ Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea
About a year and a half into my teaching career, I presented at a conference in the upstate of South Carolina. I shared a strategy for personalizing extension activities for students that I’d developed out of desperation one day. I’d planned for 15 or so participants and was overwhelmed when they moved me to a banquet hall as about a hundred and fifty attendees filed in. I knew I lacked the experience or expertise for the session, but launched in anyway, determined to do whatever I could to help jumpstart some important conversations among these school leaders. After the session, a principal from another school district approached me and said, “I’ll hire you right now as an assistant principal if you’ll come work for me tomorrow.” I was at a complete loss for words and my principal, standing beside me, said: “Can’t we let her teach first? Give her a few years to find herself and her passion in education. Let her have this time and this season now.”
That turned out to be some of the greatest advice I’ve ever been given.
Over the past 13 years, I have had the time of my life in my classroom. From time to time, there were opportunities to pursue other avenues, but I could never make myself pursue them. They never felt right.
All the while, I was finding my voice as an educator, learning what mattered most to my students and what it would take to meet their needs. I learned teaching practices and refined my philosophy, experimented with technology and wrote curricula for a variety of courses and formats. But more importantly, I learned the art of relationship-building and the importance of knowing the big picture. I learned how important difficult conversations are and how deeply students can really think. I learned to challenge the status quo while respecting the history that has brought us here. I learned how important policy is to establishing systems of learning that meet the needs of the world my students will inherit. I learned how incredibly crucial teachers are to the society we long to create.
About a year and a half ago, there began to be a restlessness that I couldn’t quite articulate. Through conversations with mentors I deeply respect and circumstances swirling around me, I knew something within me was changing. There was a longing for a different kind of impact, a deeper influence in our education community. There were many could-have-been, might-have-happened, should-have-considered moments slipping through my fingers in a confusing, frustrating season. I’d found what mattered to me and I knew where my passions fell, but I couldn’t seem to find my place in the story.
A few months ago, the pieces began to fall into place. My school district posted a job description for an Employee Development Facilitator, and it was a beautiful collision of all of the passions that had taken up residence in my restless heart. I applied for the job, interviewed last week and was named to the position at this week’s board meeting. In this role, I will be able to provide very intentional, purposeful support to teachers in their first five years of teaching and to our international teachers. I will be able to train mentors, expand their reach and work with some amazing leaders who I deeply admire and respect to help our teachers feel valued and validated in their most vulnerable professional years. I’ll even get to stay connected to our world language family through work with our international teachers.
Leaving my classroom is one of the most challenging decisions I have ever made. I love my students with a deep, fierce and protective love. Talking to them about this transition yesterday was as emotionally draining a day as I remember ever having as a teacher. It was so, so hard.
But this bend in the road? It’s right. God’s been in the details for longer than I can even fully understand. I sat with my principal Wednesday morning as we crafted an email to our LMS family, and we both were weepy the whole time at the incredible way these moments have been ordained. As hard as it is to think about leaving this school I’ve called home for thirteen years and the people I love so dearly, it’s so overwhelmingly peaceful to know that this is the right thing in the right time in the right place.
“I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend. I wonder how the road beyond it goes–what there is of green glory and soft, checkered light and shadows–what new landscapes–what new beauties–what curves and hills and valleys further on.”