Thursday, May 16, 2013

Moving On...

It has been unofficial for a few weeks now, but as of today it is official. This is the last month of my teaching career. I will retire at the end of May.

(There is no rhyme or reason to the placement of pictures below. I just chose a pretty random group of pics from my facebook albums that illustrate my teaching career and inserted 'em wherever they landed.)

It is the toughest decision I have made in a long time. 

I am looking forward to retirement in many ways, but I can’t help but feel sad that I will not greet those two dozen eager little faces next fall. I won’t get to introduce them to Penny and Nick and Ben. I won’t get to walk them across the desktops in our simulation of the ancient discovery of America by Asians across Beringia. I won’t get to lead them on the “Long Trail” ...

... through our school woods or lead them in examining those seventy-odd apples they bring that first week.


 I won’t get to teach them those silly songs: “Cut the Cake” and “Evaporation” or teach them to sing Jefferson’s wonderful words “We Hold These Truths...”. I won’t tell them about my ‘Possum friend, ‘Delphis, nor will I give them their first recital of Jabberwocky. 

I have always loved that first week as I get to know them and vice versa. There will be no timid “brown bag reports” from the Castle this fall.

I can’t complain about my final group of homeroom younguns. I have a precious group who made me look awfully good for 2012-2013 as they “excelled” as a group on all five parts of the “The Test That Shall Not Be Named” with not a single failing score. And all three of my  groups managed to improve over their third grade scores by more than 20 points in science and about that much in social studies -- the best growth in Floyd County.

I first joined Floyd County Schools in 1971. I had already taught two years in Putnam County, West Virginia. After two years at McHenry teaching fifth grade, I accepted the additional $400 per year to be assistant principal there, while I continued my classroom duties for four more years. I transferred to Pepperell for one year as a sixth grade teacher before I began my eleven years teaching in the gifted program. What fun I had there as I got to invent my own curriculum along with a close knit group of wonderful teachers.

In 1988 I left teaching for eleven years to chase a dream in private enterprise. 

Then in 1999 I recognized education as my true calling and answered Anita Stewart’s invitation to interview at Armuchee. It has been joy to serve the children of Armuchee for the last fourteen years. 

I have been privileged to work with some of the finest teachers and administrators in the country at this remarkable school. The environmental emphasis at Armuchee fit perfectly with my own educational philosophy, and the environmental education program here helped me develop and refine my philosophy and methods. Together we have created an excellent atmosphere of learning for the children and collegiality among the staff and faculty. I am very proud of what we have wrought at Armuchee during the last decade plus. I will always carry warm memories of the students, parents, teachers, administrators, and other staff members with whom I have worked. 

Despite the current anti-public education climate in Georgia, I hope my cohorts will continue the tradition of environmental education at Armuchee. High stakes testing is not the final indication of educational success, but I must point out that while using environmental methods we have achieved testing results that compare very favorably with those of other schools. Learning in the context of the real world around us really does stick.

I look forward to the opportunity to do occasional volunteer storytelling and nature activities at Armuchee. Those twenty-five beautiful acres and the folks who have peopled them will always be near my heart.