Friday, June 10, 2011

The last day of school

At last, the day is here, the day when after I turn in my grades, my keys, and my computer, I exit an emptied classroom for the final time.  In true Herman (and Hamlet) fashion, I have pondered (and over pondered) this day since school began in August.
 My teaching career commenced at Lake Lehman High School in August 1988.  Those five years in Lehman were halcyon days of hard, hard work (five preparations!) coupled to the thrill of learning how to teach and the delight of what it means to have pupils. In so many ways, Lehman students and one  master teacher (Maureen Purcell) instilled in me the soul of teaching that has propelled me through my entire career.  It was a sacred time...
 In 1994, I returned to my hometown and to my Alma Mater, State College Area High School. My tenure here refined who I am as a teacher and unquestionably defined who I am as a colleague and a member of a faculty.  My students continued as the lights and loves of my days and the reasons I returned each August.

In the 20+ years my Septembers through June have been spent in a classroom, much in the field of education has changed; however the fundamental truth of what it means to be a teacher remains the same.  It is indeed hard work. But it is primarily a thrilling, delightful, meaningful, fulfilling and touching calling.  I have always been proud to say I am teacher.

For quite a while now, people have been asking me how I feel about retiring, this stepping away from my career in a classroom.  It has been difficult to wrap language around what I need to say about this knot tying up my stomach.  I know those words and those stories will come. But not today...
(These images of my classroom come from the eye and camera of Denise Schwab; thank you, Denise)

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