Journeys Home – Part 3

I’m not sure I can capture everything about this amazing day. We are in Vermont, where my husband not only grew up, but where he is a descendant of the settlers of this area. I taught here in the early 70s and came back to teach here again for 6 years in the 90s. We are here now for my friend’s retirement party from teaching. She has spent 38 years in the same school, opening the school in 1972. It would have been 41 years, but there was time off for pregnancy and broken ankles. There was an after-school retirement party on Monday afternoon, and it was a must that we be here.

She was working so we spent the day just drinking in sights of Mt. Mansfield and all the green fields. I stopped at the district office for what became a very emotional time with people I had worked with – superintendent, financial assistant, head of special ed – all of whom I had worked closely with in other capacities when I was here. They remembered me and gave me big hugs. Blythe even said she had just been thinking about me and wished I still worked in the district. I wa overwhelmed. As someone with fairly low self-esteem and who always wonders about whether or not she had done a good job, it was such magic to know I was recognized immediately and remembered for the work I had done. From here we stopped at the middle school where I taught, and again it was hugs and welcome back. Then went to the high school and same thing. The job I had left was running our learning lab for at-risk students. The woman who took it over from me has expanded the program, and the service award named in my honor is still going strong 16 years later.

Wow. In fact, today in our travels I am stopping at the high school to give a monetary donation to fund the award. This award is for a student who has demonstrated selfless work for others in the school.  Yesterday I stopped at Williston Central School to leave a donation in honor of Al Myers, the theater teacher from whom I learned an immense amount.

But it was the party Monday afternoon that was amazing. My best friend of 35-plus years retired, along with 2 other teachers. In lieu of a retirement party, the staff meeting became a pot-luck – yes, things are getting very tight in education…..Well, all the old-timers from when the school started came, including my favorite principal, and it was wonderful catching up, seeing pictures of grandbabies, and in general reminiscensing about the old days. My friend Kathy had written her speech going back to when the school was new, and the parties we threw, and all kinds of remembrances – lots and lots of fun. I was so glad I could share that with her. This was a journey home that was wonderful – but this was not a family journey – this was to where I had come of age as an adult and as a teacher, and that made all the difference. No one knew my dysfunctional family – they just knew me and the kind of teacher I was – so it was fabulous. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything! Now off to party with the retiree on the Burlington waterfront for a few hours!!

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