Thursday, March 31, 2016

Difficult but It's Time

After much thinking, wrestling, waffling back and forth I finally made the decision to retire. It helps that my building has turned into a turn-over building, which for decades it was not. Teachers came, loved it and stayed. After having one administrator who seemed to have the assignment of getting rid of teachers with experience and fond memories of the deep deep family bonds in our school, not just among colleagues, but teachers and students, and that first massive turnover that was not from natural death or retirement-- my school became a school that loses half its staff in a year. It appears that it will happen again. Many of our new people are permanent subs making little and I expect that will get worse before it gets better. People who chose to leave were called dead wood by someone I respected so much, only to be snapped up faster than they could anticipate by other schools in our same corporation. It appears that, even though our discipline has improved so much that students and teachers feel safe again, we are still going to lose big chunks of entire teams. This is the cost of being at the bottom of the barrel in scores in Indiana. Our DOE rep loves us and says we are years ahead of other F and D school in the state--but the pressure brought to bear on the core teachers is too much. I am not a core teacher and have not been for at least a dozen years. I am so happy in my art room, but unhappiness leaks over on to me. I was a late comer to teaching and just hoped I could meet the rule of 85, I am 3 years past that and will almost make it to my goal of teaching until I am 70! Teaching has been a calling for me and my heart has been broken so many times as I watch this calling/career path be destroyed by politics and turned into a job that a family will never be able to climb a ladder to success in. I have young teacher friends who have not had a raise since they began 7 or 8 years ago and, with the steps gone, the union gutted, may be better off moving on to Walmart-- or the corner quick mart. All this makes me finally able to commit to the end of my career in public education. I think I still have time and health to explore my own art, be a wonderful grandmother, take classe, teach a class or 2--  I entered teaching at a time when a person could live nicely and educate their children. That may be gone. Please come back.

I do meet young people, though not many, who want to be teachers, and I don't discourage them. I am convinced that big guv will see the error of their ways and teaching will be both a calling and a way for a family to live, a career path commensurate with the education teachers have once again. The million dollar committees called to figure out why we are losing teachers (any teacher can answer this at no cost) may bring back some of what is missing from the path I chose. Of course, I also clung to tech stocks, I really didn't believe they could fail!  The pendulum must swing, right?

When I signed the paper, I sobbed--24 hours later I was fine (I think).

I have made my decision

June 31 is my last contracted day of my 23 year career-- I have moved past tears, I hope, and on to looking towards a future filled with forms of art and grand boys' activities. I have started making small efforts at purging in my house. I have been getting rid of unnecessary clothes, I just have too many, books, I have too many, and kitchen items, I have too many. I have loved my teaching career and have not wanted to end it. I started late so it is much shorter than the careers of other boomers. I may have been able to save and secure a safe retirement for myself and my husband, I am proud of that.

I had a visit last week from one of my first art students who is now finishing her MFA and teaching university classes. Her art is wild and free! love it and found it so moving and so validating.

I hope a very good person much better than myself will take my place. After 2 years in the horrible discipline of a previous principal, our school is climbing back to safety for students
AND teachers. That makes it easier to leave.