A Last Minute Change of Plans

No Telling

Today I finished packing up book boxes and moved out of my university office. With four more days until the students flood in, I’m going back to public school teaching. Yes I am.

I left high school teaching five years ago for this academic adventure, and now it’s time to go back. I miss the students who aren’t there because they want to be. I miss the feeling that every day I might say or do the very thing that sets a young person on course. I miss gut-wrenching teen angst poetry. I even miss the frustration of staying up late at night to find one more way to make the magic happen for students who don’t believe it matters.

So last Monday when I discovered a last minute opening/chance to go back, I applied and was hired in a day. That was that. My Ivory Tower career didn’t turn out to be a career anyway, just a job. There are important things I’ll miss there as well. My heart hurts when I think about the literary magazine staff I’m leaving behind. These students are grown-ups, though, seniors in college standing at the edge of the jumping-off place, capable and in control. I’m going to miss their triumphs.

To be honest, there wasn’t a day during those five university years that I didn’t look around and wonder which students weren’t there. The students who didn’t make it to the show always haunted me.

Because I know I made the right decision, it was surprising to find I was more than a little jangled as I loaded the last box in my car this afternoon. Resignation and keys turned in, I let the front door of Thompson Hall close behind me and the world spun a bit. Maybe all this moving was too fast, maybe it was simply too damn hot out to be lugging heavy boxes across fiery asphalt.

Maybe it was that I’d spent most of my life on that campus, sneaking cigarettes and listening in on medieval lit night classes when I was supposed to be in the library. My mom was a dorm mother and my daddy coached football there on that campus. It was my home and the school where I later earned two degrees. I remember the odd vacancy of the whole campus leaving for Christmas or summer break, the ghost-town silence theย  university left behind at such times. It was like someone had sucked all of air out of my walking-around world and left me dangling there alone. Can you hear me Major Tom?

It felt like that again today. A Sunday afternoon between terms, empty parking lots and still buildings. Maybe it was that this time, I left too. That’s a lot of history to walk away from.

Tomorrow morning I’ll be in workshops and dragging furniture around my classroom. On Thursday, the halls will be filled with nervous and swaggering teenagers. It makes me smile to imagine them, all possibility and emotion, filing into rooms unaware that these rooms are too small to hold them long.

I can’t wait to begin.

photo, George Eastman House via Flickr Commons

31 thoughts on “A Last Minute Change of Plans

  1. oh, this is such good news for public education! those lucky students! we need more teachers like you in our schools! i can't wait to hear about your high school adventures and the writing you'll do with your kids. congratulations on your new career!!

  2. Thanks so much, everyone! I'm up to my elbows in boxes and lesson plans, but the dust should settle here just in time for the doors to open on Thursday. Whew, I say.

  3. You've got some cajones, I tell ya, going into a high school. Good for you!! Teachers are special people, especially those who teach high schoolAND middle school. Good luck!

  4. Get out o' town!! Good for you, Monda! Those kids are lucky to be getting you back. You'll be much missed on campus, you know that. But, oh, there's something about young teenagers…I love them, in all their surly, insecure, awkward flowering, their diamond-in-the-roughness.

    Hope the high school has a/c…

  5. Thanks, Dame!

    Hey Pat, there's a special crown in heaven for those who teach middle school. Lordy.

    Kathi, my greatest fear is that the a/c will go out. In this 100+ daily broil, we'd perish in a heartbeat. Cross your fingers for me.

  6. Oh Monda!! I am so happy for you! Those kids are lucky; you're a great teacher and an inspiration–you'll do well no matter what kind of classroom you're in. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Ms. Monda! If you are teaching where I think you are… well, lets just say I'm about to be very upset! I tried to get into the creative writing class at the high school… but they couldnt work it out for me to take classes over at the Big Blue and take my required classes over here. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But if you ask me, I just don't think my counselor tried hard enough. Shame, shame!

  8. Thanks Abby! And I see you're scribbling up a storm at My Arkansas Heart. You go, darlin'!

    Oh Margie. I can't believe your bad luck, because we're going to put together one stunning magazine this year. Don't you dare stop writing!

  9. Great for you! and great for the public school where you are. I'm also happy for you that you could accept that your 5 year venture wasn't working out for you and you were able to make that leap back. Great for you!!!

  10. Though you might think it was too late in college to make a difference you are wrong. My time in your classroom helped open my mind and become the free thinking, intellectual I am now with a motive to change the world somehow. Thank you and I hope that you continue to inspire young students like me for years to come!

  11. Anonymous, thank you. My heart is full today because you left this comment for me. You just gave me fuel to go back into the classroom this morning, and I needed it.


  12. I came across your blog in the “blogger archives”, and I must say you've got a great Blog!!! I especially like the vintage feel to it, and I find your writing very comical and fun to read! Thanks for the wonderful read, keep up the wonderful writing, and I look forward to checking back! I'm definitely going to bookmark your page or put it as a link on my blog. ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy Teaching!

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