Today was the last day of school. The bell rang at 2:25, and like every year, the students cheered, the teachers breathed a collective sigh of relief, and the school emptied to close out the year. But this time, I wasn’t there to experience the abrupt transition into summer as I have the previous thirteen Junes. Yet I couldn’t get this particular last day of school off my mind today.
I have been on a leave of absence since November, and halfway through my time out of the classroom, I resigned as a high school mathematics teacher. My computer has been turned in for months. My personal items have been recovered from my classroom for ages. My keys were given back weeks ago. And recently, I deleted my school google account from my phone. I even let myself have a necessary, healthy cry while going through endless boxes of documents and binders acquired from 13 years of teaching math, deciding what could be recycled and the things I couldn’t let go of.
But today, on the last day of school, it finally felt, well…final. That is complex chapter in my life, filled with more love than heartache and more hope than regret, has ended. And although the story didn’t end in happily ever after, my new venture allows me to dig down deeper to my educator core as I pursue my PhD in math education starting in September.
St Francis high school was my first and only teaching job, and I had a tremendously positive experience serving as a mathematics instructor and as a leader in the district. I have been very fortunate to have done such meaningful work while employed there and to have worked with such committed, passionate people. My work there has propelled me to become involved in the greater math education community and engage with teachers across the country in order to keep our profession moving forward for children.
When I reflect on what I’m going to miss the most, there are a lot of things, but my mind keeps going back to the dog wall. (Wow, unexpected teariness). Each picture on that wall isn’t just a dog. It’s a student who handed me that picture and told me why that dog was important to them, whether it was their dog, their friend’s dog, or a dog they found on the internet. Every picture has a student, every student had a story, and every story had a piece of being a teacher that I cherished so much. Thankfully, my spouse captured some photos of the dog wall, and a collage of it hangs prominently in my new office. I’ll apologize in advance to the teacher who takes over that classroom next. But I hope they can appreciate for a moment before they take the pictures down what’s really joyous about being a teacher: the students, the unique stories they bring into our classrooms, and the value of their perspectives.
Here we go, Megan. Onward.