In the midst of giving a final, grading yesterday's finals, continuing to pack up my room and writing letters of recommendation for students applying to summer programs in advance of their senior year, I was visited today by several favorites--Nico (please vote for him for Upland school board and city council), Allison, Crissy (aka "Scottie" as she is also the school mascot in the giant scottie dog costume), Mariah (who brought me not one but two red velvet cupcakes, oh my buddha!) and most poignantly, Desiree Dragna, teacher of freshmen and my replacement for next year.
Desiree came looking for "wisdom," as she put it, and I had to laugh. My joke with the Honors kids is that they were unfortunate enough to get me and not a "real" teacher. As the year progresses, some of them come to appreciate the fact that I am unconventional in my teaching. Not all, of course.
As I'm sure I've mentioned, this is my 27th year of teaching. OK, full disclosure: It's actually going to be 26.5. My first paid teaching assignment began after winter break at a tiny middle school in San Bernardino called Richardson Prep High. (Yes, it is a middle school.) In all my years of teaching, I've never met anyone else who has taught there. Until today. And there was Desiree, young and thin and pretty with long, brown hair. Wow. Except for the "pretty," that was me a few decades ago. Best of all, she is down to earth, unpretentious, and the minute she begins to talk about teaching, it's clear that she loves her job, loves the kids and, as she put it, feels Upland High School is her "home." She is absolutely perfect to take up where I left off with the Honors program and with my sweathogs as well. I had a lot of happy moments today (especially when eating those cupcakes), but this just absolutely made me feel at peace in leaving.
People have told me in recent weeks (when I've said I will miss the new crop of freshmen coming in) that it's ok; those kids don't know me, so they don't know what they're missing. I don't know about all that, but I have wondered who will be there to love them as I do. Desiree. Desiree already loves them and she hasn't even met them yet.
And we decided, Desiree and I, that while she may be the new kid now, she's going to hang in there and stay at Upland for a couple of decades, until everyone else with seniority over her retires or leaves the planet, at which point she'll be the one calling the shots. I wish her all the best. She's gonna be fantastic.