You could say that I spent twenty five years hiding. In public education.
You get a room. (Or, when times are tight, you don’t – in which case, you get a “cart”, and a 10×10 storage closet for the djembes and tubanos and Orff xylophones). You get a schedule. And, you get students. All the students. Every single student enrolled in the school. And, you get all five days of the week, just like everybody else with a full time job.
Beyond that, most everybody else gets from you a solid forty minutes of downtime every week. (Not all; some).The bosses like you best when they never have to remember that you are even in the building. Actually make your presence known, and you could already be in trouble.
Count on hearing about every other teacher’s birthday over the morning announcements. Expect that, when you reach your big 50th, there will be a faculty meeting scheduled keeping you on the premises for an extra forty minutes after the students leave, with nary a mention of your special day. And, of course, no announcement.
Put the entire enrollment on stage every winter and spring, in full concert mode. Get one chance to do all this in the evening, properly, but when the administrative staff is stuck running parking duty for five hundred parents, expect to be relegated thereafter to nine o’clock a.m. Greet the parents who show up in the morning because they don’t have day jobs. Recognize the docile humans, easily led to their folding chairs in the gym so that the auditorium can remain dark and the parking lot unattended, and thank them for coming.
Slip on a dusty stage floor during the musical (at 9 a.m.) lose your additional footing on a choral riser with an unstable frame, fly into the air and land in the pit in full view of an auditorium filled to capacity with K, 1 and 2, and know even before it happens that the principal isn’t even in the room to witness. Break your hip, your sacra, and a bone in your hand. Count on Workman’s Comp to provide your medical attention thereafter, preventing your ability to sue for damages.
Fall in love with thousands of children. Between the hours of 8 am and 2pm daily, help raise them. Be there as they grow into adolescence. Feel them turn. Face them, every day, the handful of sullen, dismissive ones who alpha their way into dominance over hundreds. Feel the ache in your chest. Experience the mild trauma of diminishing returns. Vow to walk away and disappear.
Finally, stop hiding. Step assuredly into your own light. Represent. Collect your thoughts and the sum of your experience. And, sign your name to your own life’s work.
© Ruth Ann Scanzillo 2/21/16 All rights those of the author, whose story is hers alone. If you share in her experience, please Re-Blog. Thank you.