The dust has settled, more or less, on the whole fiasco that has been my professional life these last two months. I am coming – slowly, painfully, but certainly surely – to the conclusion that while I wouldn’t have chosen to leave CHS, it’s probably best that I did.
The information that I’m getting – piecemeal and from varied sources and almost never straight-up, but rather given in roundabout, listen-to-what-I’m-NOT-saying ways – is that I lost my job because of my relationship with Sweet Pea. I’ve been thinking about all the things that people have said and reviewing all the things that happened, and I’ve come to the conclusion that, even knowing what the consequences were, I wouldn’t have done a single thing differently.
I was there for a kid who needed me – a kid who really, life-and-death needed me. No one else was able, or willing, to take that kind of responsibility. The “guidance counselor” stated at the beginning of the year, out loud and in front of witnesses, that he “doesn’t do crying kids.” The administration put a 15 minute limit on how long we could care for distraught students; I was told that if we couldn’t get a kid back on his or her feet in 15 minutes, we were to send them home. I’m so sorry, but I can’t be a part of an organization that claims to be focused on community – on caring for the individual and on fostering close and familial relationships – but then turns around and puts a stopwatch on a kid’s stress or anxiety.
The truth of the matter is that we didn’t have a support system in place for the kids who needed it (and Sweet Pea wasn’t the only one who needed it; not by a long shot). Mr. Chili and I were talking the other day about how my behavior toward students might have to change in a different setting, and without even really thinking about it, I told him that as long as I trusted the people whose job it is to care for students in that way, I won’t feel like I need to do it. I will still love my kids – I always do, whether they’re in high school or college – but I won’t feel the need to worry about them if I know someone else – someone competent – is taking care of their out-of-class needs. I reminded Mr. Chili that I didn’t “adopt” any kids last year the way I did this year because I trusted the counselor we had then; I only started picking up kids when she left and the new guy showed up and gave the kids the very clear message that he wasn’t interested in listening to their troubles.
The truth of the matter is that I saved Sweet Pea’s life. Literally. The fact is that she needed me, and I was there. If I had to lose my position because of that relationship, then so be it. Given the choice, I’d pick the kid over the job every time.