Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Another Year is Done

Posted to The Wave for the June 29th edition:

As I write this on the morning of the last day of the school year for teachers and students, I have no sense of joy at the days to come. I am not floating two feet above the ground. The chirping birds do not sound louder. And the roses do not smell any sweeter.

You see, I am a retired teacher and I no longer get to celebrate this wondrous day - my biggest regret at being retired. Though I may join still working friends later at The Wharf [a waterfront joint in Rockaway with great views] to help them celebrate and congratulate them on their 2-month annual retirement, I will have just a touch of sadness at not being able to truly share in the euphoria.

Now don’t get me wrong. I really liked teaching, especially the close to twenty years I spent teaching in the self-contained classroom. We were with the kids up to the last moments of the school year (high school teachers slap their foreheads in disbelief when they hear this) and it was sad having to say goodbye to the kids and the little community we had built over the year. But a few minutes after they were gone, followed by an hour or two cleaning up, there was the announcement “the checks are in” and I joined the snaking line of teachers (some had lined up the night before) turning in keys, roll books, record boxed and whatever other stuff we were asked to bring along before we could get our checks. And off we went for another summer of recuperation.

Now this column is clearly aimed at teachers, but those not in the profession who accidentally stop by may scoff at this summer off business. “Hey, we get two weeks vacation, four at most.” Yeah! Well I won’t go into the details but think of teaching as being in a play that opens in September and closes in June, where the teacher is the actor, director, writer, custodian, ticket-taker, etc. No one resents actors taking a little time off between plays. ‘Nuff said.

I did not dread going back to work in September. But the end of two months of freedom was a dreadful counterpart to the fabulous end of June. No matter how many years you taught, the butterflies were always there on the night before you saw the kids for the first time.

Come this September, there will be no twitch of sadness when the gang troops back to the trenches and I get a double dose of the euphoria I am missing out on today.

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