Me neither – it’s been a while!
The last thing I talked about was the beginning of Fall and now we’re well into the heart of winter. And it’s 2011. When did that happen. In May, it will be 10 years since I graduated high school…that kind of gives me an ulcer. This life goes by so fast! Everything seems to move at a snail’s pace when you’re a child and then you grow up and it seems like you’re decorating the Christmas tree the day after the pool opens in the summer.
Anyway, life has changed a lot for me, so let me fill you in. Since we last caught up, I was working at the Young Life regional office, living at Salem Academy, and contemplating the meaning of life and my role in the universe. The latter two are still true, but the first has changed – I’m not longer working for Young Life but am now employed by Guilford County Schools as an 8th grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at Ferndale Middle School – !! I know, it all happened so fast. No, I’m serious. I interviewed for the job the Friday before Thanksgiving and had it by Tuesday. Whoa. I started December 1, just observing, and then officially had my own hooligans on December 6. Now they’re mine and there’s no turning back – muahahaha.
And, no joke, this is the hardest job I’ve ever had. I’m teaching in the heart of High Point at a Title 1, Mission Possible school where 120 languages are spoken. It’s likely the most diverse school in the county – approx. 900 students, 40% African American, 28% White, 16% Hispanic, 11% Asian, 4% Multi-Racial and 1% American Indian. And here I am, a middle-class white girl from small-town NC (and CA too, can’t forget that). I heard a news report on NPR yesterday on the way to school about Mt. Airy High School (my alma mater) and they said something like, “There are 519 students, 401 of which are White, 67 are African American and 36 are Hispanic” (can’t remember the exact numbers – do mine even equal 519?). I heard that and just chuckled to myself. Ah, sweet Mt. Airy. That’s where I grew up and where I taught for two years after college. I had no idea what was really out in the real world.
Now here I am in the ‘city’ (if you can call High Point that), with lots of kids who don’t look like me, who weren’t raised like me, who get mad at me and have no problem saying it, who talk all the time (ok, like me), who don’t care if I yell at them, who have homes so broken it makes me want to weep, who are immature and don’t know what to do with their raging hormones, who will do anything with anyone to feel an ounce of “love,” and who make me crawl back to Jesus everyday. I never want to repeat the last six weeks of school because I honestly thought I was going crazy for taking the job. It’s so hard.
But you know what? It’s getting better. Crying helps. Jesus does too. And honestly, it’s hard for so many reasons – coming in mid-year, new school/city/grade level, not knowing the system or how things are done, etc. – but the toughest thing is that I’ve been out of the classroom and out of practice for 3.5 years. I’m having to completely switch modes in my brain and figure out how to have a new routine at work and in my personal life. I’ve got to remember how to teach. But I’m different this time around too. I’m older and (hopefully) wiser and I’m going to be a different teacher. I hope I do it better. And I don’t know how long I’ll do it or what the future holds (grad school? full-time ministry?), but I know this is where God wants me for now. It’s a mission field like none other and I want to do it for Him.
Because at the end of a long, hard day…that’s all that really matters.
“…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31)