Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Breathing a Sigh of Relief

A couple months ago, 30 minutes before the start of parent-teacher conferences, my principal asked me to come to her office.

This invitation is no less intimidating as a staff member than it was as a student.

As I walked down the hall, I began racking my brain about what I might have said or done to make a parent call in about me, but I couldn't come up with anything.

She shared with me that due to a combination of budget cuts and changes in enrollment, our 6th grade team has to cut two teachers for next year.  My team leader is retiring, so that was one easy "cut," but the next one wasn't going to be so easy.  All teachers in 6th grade at my school are certified to teach grades K-6.  Except for me.  I'm certified to teach grades 4-9.  And it just so happens that the 7-8 Reading Intervention teacher is also retiring, so, as my principal informed me, if I would be willing to take that job, all other teachers in 6th grade could stay at my school.  If I decided to keep my job in 6th grade, my dear friend and neighbor teacher, Elise, would get surplussed to who-knows-where, teaching who-knows-what.

My heart sank, and I got that awful pit-in-your-stomach feeling that doesn't go away.  For weeks.

In my heart, I knew that I had to take the position upstairs... I couldn't bear the thought of Elise getting shipped off to another school.  I fully intended to tell my principal on the following Monday morning that I would take the job, and my plan was to not ever tell Elise about what had happened.  I didn't want her to feel, in any way, that she owed me anything or that I had done her any favors. 

Due to circumstances that I'm not going to discuss, Elise found out about the decision I had to make and wanted to come talk to me about it.  For more than three hours, we talked and cried and prayed and cried and weighed pros and cons and cried some more.  She couldn't have been more wonderful about the whole situation, and was very adamant that I make the choice that was best for me.

All weekend, I weighed my choices and prayed a bunch, and I kept coming back to the fact that if I stayed put, Elise would have to go.  And that idea just didn't sit well with me.

So, on Monday morning, I e-mailed my principal and told her that I would take the 7/8 job.  Although I wasn't thrilled about it, and I still felt sick at my stomach every time I thought about leaving the team that I love so much, I felt confident that I had made the decision that was best for everyone.

Throughout the next several weeks, my prayer - our prayer - was that something would happen that would allow me to stay.  Maybe another teacher would get another job or maybe our enrollment would miraculously go up.  We just kept hoping for something - anything - to happen.


Last Thursday, Elise asked me how I was doing with everything.  I told her that I had come to terms with everything and that I knew that God had a plan for me - for us - and that I trusted in it.  I was actually starting to get excited about the new curriculum and that chance to really make an impact for kids who really struggle with reading.  I told her that the optimist in me kept hoping that something would change, but the realist in me was ready to start packing up my classroom into boxes to prepare for my move.  I just didn't want to put off that daunting task until the last day of school.

On Friday, just one short day after I was ready to start packing, we got an e-mail from one of my co-workers saying. that she had accepted another teaching job across town. 

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I think I did both.

I am so sad to lose this co-worker, as she has been such an amazing teammate over the past three years.  But, selfishly, I am so thankful that this means that I get to keep my job, the curriculum that I know so well, and the team that I absolutely adore.

God is so good.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."
-Matthew 7:7

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