Almost seven years ago, I sat in an interview for my very first “big girl” job and answered the question: “What do you see yourself doing in ten years?”
“I can’t see myself doing anything but teaching. It’s in my blood.”
Six months later, I donned my teacher’s gown and stole for the first time and joined the ranks of the educators around me as we celebrated the graduating class of 2007. And for six and a half years, I’ve struggled and triumphed (and sometimes suffered defeat), loved and lost, cheered and cried, prayed and pleaded, explored and envisioned. For six and a half years, teaching has been my life.
This week, the very first class I ever taught walked across the stage at Dillon High School. I remember these beauties when they were scared little seventh-graders (Okay, to be fair, not all of them were scared. Some of them were scarY.). I remember studying until my brain nearly exploded as I tried to teach them as best as an English major could about WWI, WWII, and the Cold War. I remember figuring out that the best way to explain the concept of totalitarianism was to march around the room, shouting the lyrics to Snap’s “I Got the Power”. I remember being terrified one day when a girl who was three times my size became angry about not being able to talk during a test, so she got in my face and started yelling at me. I thought I might lose an eyeball or an arm. I remember two years later, when she walked down the halls of the high school where I later worked, and our relationship had been repaired.
I remember the first poem Denisha wrote. I remember the first time she performed in our Spoken Word Poetry competition. The fire in her eyes and heart was contagious. She still makes me want to be a better writer.
And now, two years after I began teaching at SCA, I arrive home, kick off my high heels, put my pearls away, and hang up my gown and stole for the sixth time after celebrating the graduating class of 2012. I cried all the way home after this graduation because, while I haven’t taught these kids (aside from drama club), I’ve grown to know and love many of them. I’ve taught their siblings, and I’ve seen them struggle through divorce, deaths of loved ones, sicknesses, injuries, academic frustrations, and spiritual trials. I’ve seen them step up and lead when no one else would. I’ve watched them grow as artists and speakers and musicians and filmmakers. And tonight, as one of them turned around to me to ask me if his hat was turned the right way, I remembered again why I do this.
I can’t see myself doing anything but teaching. It’s in my blood, and it’s in my bones. And even though I feel right now as if I could sleep for three days straight after the end of this school year, I can almost see myself getting up tomorrow to start all over again. That’s what life is like when you have found your calling. My only prayer is that I may be found worthy.
“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” –Ephesians 4:1-2