For the past eight years I have had the privilege of teaching at my school. I say a privilege because I do truly consider it in honor to serve and sacrifice for the Father and to obey Him in all that I do, from Sunday morning worship to toiling at my desk grading papers. Those of you who know me well or have followed the blog for a long time know that my job has been a source of both joy and heartbreak. It has been a struggle to teach teens in the grips of the culture of poverty alongside those who have much. Events orchestrated by a few have tainted the reputation of our school and we have struggled along with high staff turnover, low morale, winless sports seasons, disappointing scores. But through it all there were victories and surprises sprinkled in. It was the students, staff and at times the leadership that helped me make the school my home away from home.
For eight years I have prayed that the Lord give me his eyes and his heart for my students and co workers. And let me tell you what a bold prayer that it is when working in a Title I school.
I have had my heart broken, torn out and stomped on.
I have listened to horrible stories of neglect and seen the effects of poverty first hand. On the flip side I have seen students with so much waste what they were given for what felt good at the moment.
I have had worked so hard to prepare them for the state tests to get scores back where only four have passed the social studies section. Out of 120.
I have stayed up late and stayed at the school late working on cross curricular units and projects that were innovative and engaging to have three people actually complete them of 120.
I have held crying students and cried with them.
I have lost students. I have lost faculty members.
I have walked the tornado destroyed town looking for ways to help them in the disaster.
I have been cussed out.
I have thwarted fights and I have tried to break them up.
I have also screamed at the top of my lungs in the state basketball final four game.
I have danced Thriller in the pep rally.
I have dressed up on theme days.
I have taken amazing field trips.
I have cheered at countless football games.
And celebrated the band.
I have had a whole class make an A on the chapter test.
I have cried at eight graduations as I watched the ones I wasn't sure were going to make it proudly walk across the stage.
I have treasured hand written notes where students confessed , "Thank you for loving me when no else did. Your smile kept me going."
And I have had teachers tell me my classroom was a place of peace and joy from God they could literally feel.
I have gotten in my car to weep at the end of the day begging the Lord ," I cannot do it one more day". His answer was, "Yes my love you can. And you will."
I was physically exhausted, spiritually bankrupt at times and emotionally numb from pouring myself out day in and day out.
There were days I won. And there were many where I lost.
His help came in the form hugs from difficult students, interns, support from my coworkers, a verse, a photograph of my boys, a gentle reminder to choose joy in all things.
I do not share this to praise my own name or build myself up. It was Christ in me that stood in that hallway with the courage to smile while on the inside I wanted to be hiding on under my desk or at home rocking my babies. It was Christ in me that allowed me to love when I did feel like it. It was His light I tried to reflect. But for the last eight years God has been teaching my lessons, building me for the next assignment. It was Christ in me that allowed others to see leadership in me that I did not recognize myself. It was Christ in me that helped me blow the Praxis out of the water when I thought for sure I'd fail. It was Christ tin me that helped me to make connections and get that interview. And it was Christ who brought me the new job.
The time has come to close this particular chapter in my life. My days at my school are over. As of yesterday I am now a Reading/Instructional Coach at one of my system's K-8 schools. I am thrilled. A new set of challenges and I am sure heartbreaks await. And my mission will be the same. To love. To be the light. To be His hands and feet.
I loved it and I didn't all at the same time. But it felt so good to be obedient to Him in this way. And I can walk away from it knowing I did my best. I left it all on the field. The time has come to play a different game. May I submit to Him the same way.