Tuesday, February 02, 2010

It's hovering around 20 degrees, and it's snowing again. Pouring little flakes from the sky like rain..The sky has been gray for almost a week now. We have been in snow boots for days. We have been in layers for almost a week. And. I. Love. It.
I finished my report cards and need to review the paper drafts and if we have a snow day, then I get to spend it lazily looking them over.

I wanted to share a bit about my school. Although it may seem like we are an inner city school, we are far from it. My school is in the suburbs. The area has changed drastically since I started teaching there. We are a very transient school. I don't have the data, but I have to imagine that only 10% percent of our kids will continue at our school until they finish 5th grade. We also have a huge population who spend less than a year at our school. They fly in and out in a matter of months. I am sure you all understand how frustrating it is to prepare materials, notebooks, journals, textbooks, and all of the extras, and then the child is gone with no notice.
Our area is known for gang activity. MS13 has had a stronghold for many years now. We had a former student get attacked in the night one year and his hands were literally hacked off with a machete. This teen had a little brother in our school who spent the remainder of the year being escorted home by the police. On a bizarre twist, I am now teaching the niece of the poor teen who was attacked. The mom is my room mother and volunteers at least twice a week. Just goes to show you how we never really know about a family until they have a 5 year old in your class. They are actually quite lovely people who got caught up in a mess all those years ago.
We have many, many languages spoken in our school. We all secretly believe that many, many of our families are not all together legal, but what can we do? Not a whole lot.
And we are a Title 1 school which means a large portion of our school is on free and reduced lunch. If you read the application to receive free lunch, a family of 4 must have a combined income of 19K or something near that, in order to qualify. You have to wonder how any family survives on that. Again, I know that many are not truthful on their application. It is a sad example to be setting, but what can we do?
As our county struggles to manage on an ever increasing budget gap between what the county needs and what we have, many teachers can see where we spend money that we shouldn't but what can we do?
If the hours were earlier at my school, I would be happier. The later start and end times put me on the major roads at rush hour therefore extended my commute. But I wouldn't ever considering transferring. I was told in confidence that I was the most requested teacher in my school. Considering our population, I imagine that we only have a handful of families who feel empowered enough to request a teacher, but it feels good to know that families want me to be the one who introduces their child to their school experience.
And then there is My boss. She is 4 years older than I am. She is a fierce African American girl who lives in DC. Since I used to live there, we have a lot of funny experiences in common. I taught at another FCPS school before my current school, and she was a teacher there with me. She took the administrative track and I steered my masters work towards curriculum. I respect her tremendously, as she adopted her great nephews. They have VERY similar traumas to Russian orphans. She struggles with her little guys the same way many parents of older adopted kids struggle. Trust is a big hurdle for them.
My boss, (and she hates it when we call her that) believes in family, so you know I love that! She is also a Christian, so when I talk about my Hippy Church, she laughs and can appreciate my stories.
In another post, or maybe in a comment I made, I said I only have 6 years left before I retire. But I was wrong. I am in my 19th year of teaching, but my first 3 years were in Florida. So they really don't count. So I actually have 9 years until full retirement. I will be 5o, with 25 years in the county.
In thinking about this I have come up with a new plan...I don't want my girlz to go to the middle or high school that they are slated to go to..So I can teach for 4 more years, that means I will have 2o years in the county, Anna would be finishing elementary school, AugustRose will be going into 4th grade and then I can take a leave of absence from my job to yes.........Get my family to Russia. Now Tina, I know you (along with my mom) are against this, but I want my girlz to have an adventure in life, and learn the Russian Language. I want this experience for them.
Long ago I dreamed of moving to NYC and I put up too many roadblocks for myself, and let outside forces kill that idea. I keep praying about this, and Russia has stayed in my heart for more than 6 years now. I realize that nothing is promised to us, so I will just hold onto this and continue praying about it. It's not like anyone is knocking on my door begging me to come to Russia to teach. It will be hard to get a job overseas. I will be competing with single teachers with much less family baggage. But I am always up for a challenge. I am confident that I am a plus to my school. I know that my strongest asset is my fun attitude. And I really do like teaching.
So, that is where my head is right now.
The snow. It always brings me back to Russia.

1 comment:

katbat said...

I firmly believe writing it down, holding on to the dream, will make it happen. If moving to Moscow with your girls is your dream, it will will happen.

We have been in the 20s here this week too! while it is nice to go outside and not feel like your eyeballs were going to freeze, I think I prefer the extreme cold (-17F!), clear bright skies to the grey, slushy 20s.

I know (and I am sure you know) life in Moscow can be tough - but where is is easy? and I am thankful my kids have the opportunity to experience another culture, learn the language, see/live/experience the country their father grew up in - just having the opportunity to experience another culture is priceless.