The Downside of Leaving

I have already made up my mind that I’m not staying at Charter School past the end of this contract.  I had really hoped that I could see some indication that big changes were in the works for next year – not a LOT of changes, but at least a couple of significant ones – so that I could justify staying for one more year, but I’ve seen nothing that indicates that any of the things that I find unethical to the point of being unconscionable are going to change.

Mostly, I’m at peace with my decision.  Sometimes, the only thing that gets me through the day is the knowledge that there’s a clear end in sight (13 more weeks… 13 more weeks…).  Every once in a while, though, something happens that makes me the tiniest bit sad that I’m going to start packing up soon.

One of those things is three of my coworkers.  There are three of the 9 that I work with (well, FIVE, really, but only three I see regularly) whom I’m going to desperately miss.  These people are straight up professionals who care about the kids, care about what they’re teaching, and care about the environment they’re teaching in (and are as frustrated as I am that they can’t effect any change, but aren’t in the same financial position as I and, therefore, can’t afford to bail without having another job in the proverbial bag).

The other thing I’m going to be heartsick about leaving are some of the students.  There are a handful of kids with whom I’ve really bonded, and I’m going to frickin’ HATE leaving them.  This post is about one of them.

There’s this boy; let’s call him Richard.  He’s a freshman in one of my morning sections, and I can already see the gentleman he is going to become.  He is a quiet, observant, thoughtful young man with the kind of humor that you have to look for but, once you find it, it’s one of the first things you see from then on.  He’s gentle and kind, genuine and earnest, and he has bonded with me.  He comes in every morning with a cheerful, “Hi, Mrs. Chili!” and asks me how my day goes.  He grins when I call him out for playing Plants vs. Zombies instead of working on his class work.  He tries to keep his classmates on track and his favorite line when someone’s making me crazy is, “this is why we can’t have nice things!”  I love him, and he knows it, and it’s wonderful.

So, this boy also keeps chickens, right?  He’s my egg dealer, and yesterday I told him I was ready for a new dozen.  This morning, when he handed me the bag, I noticed there was a piece of  paper in there, too.  When I took the paper out, I discovered a note from Richard’s little sister (keep in mind that this little sister is little – I think she’s 8 or 10 – and that she doesn’t come to our school.  In fact, I’ve only met her once, at an open house a few months ago).  On it, she’d drawn a picture of Stitch with an ice cream cone (I have Stitch everywhere in my classroom; the kids know he represents my belief about the importance of chosen family) and wrote “To Mrs. Chili, from Mary.  Thank you for being awesome to my brother and his friends.”

I burst into tears when I saw it.

Think about it for a second.  Why is Richard’s little sister writing ME notes?  How does SHE know that I’m awesome to her big brother?  Clearly, the answer is that Richard goes home and talks about me to his family, and Mary has decided that the things he says are worth writing me a thank you note for.

It’s going to KILL me to leave that kid.

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