Final Stretch

We are in the final stretch of the school year. What we have been preparing for since August has too quickly come upon us. All school years seem to fly by, but this year especially for me. Since November I have known that this would be my last year to teach at Madison Crossing. I fought the idea hard initially, when my husband informed me that his firm wanted to send him to Houston. I said, “Absolutely not! I will not go!” I meant it too. How could I leave such a school as this.

I have had the pleasure of working for two principals who have given me the foundations of my educational philosophies. My first “real” experience as I call it, was in Los Angeles, California. I will always hold Charlotte Lerchenmuller at the top of my favorites list. She was a no holds barred kinda gal who let you know exactly what she thought. Lucky for me, she didn’t think I was too bad. She, and most of my colleagues at Emerson Middle School, showed me what it means to fight for students. I left California thinking I’d never find another principal as decisive and progressive as Charlotte. When I moved back to Mississippi, I stayed home with my children for two years. At the time I couldn’t have imagined going back to the classroom. I had found my calling. Stay at home mom! At the end of that two year season in my life, however, I felt something tugging me back to the classroom. It wasn’t just any classroom I wanted though. I had always remembered the motivation received from my reading professor at Mississippi College. For it was she who instilled a love of teaching literature in me. I had heard she was now principal at a Madison County school. I wanted to know which one. After doing my research and finding Dr. D’Amico at Madison Crossing, I sent her an email expressing my interest in working for her. The past five years have been nothing short of a true blessing. Not many teachers are empowered to teach the way we are at Crossing. We are trusted to do our jobs. We are motivated and inspired by one of the most decisive and progressive leaders I’ve known.

As I have grown as a teacher, I have found that both of these ladies’ educational philosophies (although vastly different) drive my desire to dive more deeply into the issues we face in public schools today. Oh how many problems there are, too. Do I have answers? Of course not. I am not nearly as intelligent as the educational reformers out there making their tracks. What’s bizarre though is that I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with both groups. Over the Easter break I picked up a copy of Michelle Rhee’s book, Radical. I know what my California friends would say to that! As I was reading it, I kept saying things like, “Hmmm, that’s a good point.” See, for the past eleven years as an educator, I have held true to my beginning roots that marched the steps against high stakes testing within our schools. But the more I read from Rhee’s book, the more I kept wondering what I truly believed. So as soon as I finished it, off to the bookstore I went. I wanted a book as opposite from Radical as I could find. I wanted to know the opposing arguments. For as creatively driven as I am in my classroom, I need statistics and data to convince me to buy into someone else’s ideas. What I concluded was this…. I don’t stand completely on either side. I see both points of view. I understand the side that says we have to be competitive and hold students and teachers accountable. I understand the side that says that there’s not a one size fits all test for our nation. So, as I embark on the final months of my school year, I will trudge on enthusiastically and with deep motivation to seeing that my students leave with more knowledge than they came to me with. I will both prep them for “THE TEST” and foster their creativity through literature and art. I will fight the good fight until the last bell rings…..Then I will move to Texas and continue in the fight with my own children.