Dear Fellow English Teachers,
Last summer my life was a flurry of cardboard boxes, moving trucks, hospitals, and a crying newborn. You would think that this summer would be quite relaxing compared to that, but it definitely was not. Between weddings, vacations, travel league baseball, birthdays, and chasing my newly toddling little girl around, summer flew past like one suffocating, hot breeze!
There are many things I love about the beginning of school, and one of them is that the summer heat slowly begins to subside. I love summer, but I hate the stifling, skin melting humidity that comes with Southeast Missouri. So as the heat begins to back off, and we start stocking up on notebooks, pencils, and Clorox wipes, I’m reminded how much I do love the “back to school” buzz.
Last year I had just had my daughter the week teacher workshops began. I recall feeling lost those first two weeks. Yes, I was feeling a little lost because I had not had a newborn in 10 years, but I also felt lost not being a part of the back to school bustle. I missed seeing how my students had changed over the summer; I missed setting up my classroom and buying insignificant little supplies that made me feel ready; I missed catching up with my co workers and finding out how their summer had been.
It was in those 8 weeks of maternity leave that I realized just how much being a teacher was part of who I am. To me teaching isn’t a “job.” I could go get a “job” doing something I cared nothing about and probably make more money than I do now. I would be able to go home at the end of the day with no thought about what I had done that day, but it is the little, daily interactions, the stories I get to tell at home, the moments of pride and sadness, and the human connection that feed my soul. This is what I was craving coming back to school this year. I hope that you find fulfillment in what you do this year, and that we don’t take for granted that our “jobs” are not just what we do but who we are.
Our upcoming conference is a yearly reminder of who we are and that we are not alone. I have attended large conferences in big, fancy conference centers with thousands of people, and these conferences are good and have given me many ideas. However, there is something about coming together with a community of educators from our area that know our towns. We see faces that we recognize each year. There’s a feeling of home and camaraderie as we exchange and discuss strategies that work for our classrooms. I love how I feel like a part of a larger whole and not a speck in a vast ocean. I encourage all of you to come and be a part of this community of educators that spur each other to be better and to try new ideas every year.
Valerie Ward, Kelly High School
2016-17 SMETA President