Today was the last day for teachers. I arrived at school shortly after 7 am to wash my boards and pack up the last of my possessions. I had to turn in my parking pass, my stapler and tape dispenser, all computer-related equipment, get my room inspected and turn in my keys, and then turn in my book inventory and a copy of my final exam to my department chair.
I could have been finished by 9 AM, except the administrator responsible for my neighborhood did not come in until lunch time because of car trouble. But I would not have left earlier.
For this is an important day for our faculty. It is the day when we recognize those of us who are leaving.
We get called to the cafeteria around 11 AM. One senior faculty members who is staying at least one more year got an award for being the top coach in the DC metro area for It's Academic - he is staying at least one more year because he has a superb team returning, and hopes to win the overall championship, which he has done before.
The 7 of us retiring were called up one at a time, with introductory remarks by our principal. Some of us offered a few words, in my case simply "It's been an honor and a privilege." We get a bag with going away gifts - I have not looked into mine because I want to share it with my wife, who will not get home until tomorrow - today she was making the funeral arrangements for her mom.
I had informed the faculty of her passing. That was acknowledged, as were the other two losses our community suffered this weekend: the father of one of our secretaries and our hockey coach both also passed.
We had lunch - each year a company comes in and offers us roast beef or turkey or ham, all the side dishes, sodas, and ice cream for dessert. Some teachers bring families. Some retired teachers come. Besides those of us retiring, one teacher is leaving to home school her kids, another staying home a 2nd year with her three young children, another leaving for another place (not sure, but there may be a personal relationship involved).
I was informed at the meeting that I am quoted in a book about challenging students that in part focuses on our school. I suppose I will have to get a copy.
I have left the building, but not the friends. Today I sat with two teachers who were there when I arrived, one a health teacher, the other trained as an English teacher but who runs our award-winning tv production program.
I was asked to do one last favor to use connections to see if I could help with a personnel problem.
I had people ask for my personal email - my school email account ends at close of business on June 30.
There were a few students around.
Some of the staff sent me farewell emails. So did one parent, thanking me for not retiring before her younger daughter could have me for AP as had her older daughter.
I got into my car around 12:45, walking by a few students who had come in to help teachers pack up. As I drove out of the lot I called my wife to tell her I was leaving the grounds - she was in with the funeral director at the time, both of us dealing with farewells.
My house is full of things from school. When I know what I am doing next year, I may begin to cull through them. Some are a few projects from special students that I want to keep. One is a large poster signed by about half the faculty and some parents and former students who came to my retirement celebration - I have no idea where I could put it up in our too crowded small home (over 7,000 books and 5,000 LPs and CDs in about 1550 square feet). If I have left teaching for good, some of the crates full of teaching materials and lesson plans and tests can be recycled - in several years they would be out of date anyhow.
As I sort through and figure out how to store them and where, I will be doing my one last remaining task associated with 13 years at that school, 16 years in that district.
I am no longer a teacher. That reality hit home as I drove out of the lot for the last time.
I may be a teacher again, perhaps in a very different setting. I may be doing other things.
I have, as I described it to some people at NN12, jumped off a bridge with a bungee cord whose length I did not measure.
Perhaps I can figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
If I ever do.