I responded that I still felt some bitterness about my last few years working there. Now after eight years of retirement, I want a way completely to let go of the bitterness and to help my old heart mend still further. My heart yearns to soften toward all that happened there.
This morning as I'm reading The Book of Joy, the Archbishop Tutu tells us "Shout out your sadness and pain. This can bring you back to normal."
Another friend discourages me from telling my stories--especially these three--because she says that they are private and no one else's business but mine. But I will tell them to you and to no one else. Please judge tenderly of me, Dear Reader. I believe that the telling of these stories will help to mend a broken part of myself.
According to the The Book of Joy, we are to embrace all of our emotions because they no doubt play a necessary role in our lives. The Archbishop says, "It is the hard times, the painful times, the sadness and the grief that knit us more closely together."
My teaching career, which was so instrumental in my life as a whole, ended on several notes of sadness and grief.
First and last, it was by word-of-mouth that I discovered that I had lot my job. After nearly forty years of teaching, in 2009-2010, I had finally realized a dream of mine to retire and then to job-share, I had worked the first semester, and my job-share teacher/partner was working the second semester.
It was January or February 2010. Through the grapevine I heard that the then director of schools Tim Webb had let all part-time and job-share employees in the county go! Apparently, he gave no thought or care as to who these people were that he was letting go. He wasn't from our county and didn't know us. The then board of education seemed have some control over the director, and they too must have wanted part-timers and job-sharers gone.
Immediately, when I heard of job-share teachers losing their jobs, I went to the school and asked the then new principal about the "rumor" and why she had not informed me. She responded, "I thought that you would have received a letter." I never did receive a letter nor a phone call from the central office. Nothing.
Perhaps it was all in the name of saving money, with no consideration for experienced teachers because the very next year the county offered experienced teachers "bonuses" of thousands of dollars (depending on one's experience) to retire, and many really good educators who had lost faith in the way the county school system was being run took the money and left the profession. (New teachers are paid less salary than those of us who have experience. So a county full of new teachers is going to spend less on paying its teachers.) My guess is that after the 2010-2011 school year, Cheatham County was left with a dearth of experienced teachers.
Since then, I have heard that my story of loing my job unexpectedly was a universal story in Cheatham County for that year and the next. Many good teachers and administrators lost their positions as unwise decisions continued to be made by the then director (whom the county eventually had to "buy out" of his job) and his buddy, the next director, and the board of education.
Lives and jobs were tossed about with no thought or care of how these actions affected the individals involved nor how they affected the school system as a whole. (Later a group of administrators sued the school system for loss of their jobs for bogus "reasons," and the administrators won! Thus the county ended up paying out thousands of dollars to settle those law suits! In the long run, I don't believe the county "saved" very much money, and it lost a lot of valuable educators.)
Nevertheless, my own career was ended before I had made that choice myself. Knowing me, I would have continued to work part time until I was ready to fully retire from teaching. It would have been a way of slowly phasing out in stages and of adjusting to not being a teacher after nearly four decades.
But here are the good things about my losing my job--my first granddaughter was born in late March 2010, and my daughter had post-partum anxiety and was not sleeping at all. So I was rested and free and able to keep baby Tessa overnight from the time she was a couple weeks old! And I've been keeping her and her little sister on overnight visits for the past eight years!
When the big flood came in early May that same year and my home was partially flooded, I was rested and free and able somewhat to keep my sanity and help with the big clean up and reconstruction of my house.
Another good thing was that I could not have made the decision to retire on my own; teaching was too much a part of who I was--so it's a good thing that I was forced into retirement. Also I did not know that my last semester teaching was my last semester teaching. Thus I was not then sad and griefing the loss of my career.
There are a couple other things that occurred those last few years that I taught at Harpeth High School that I want to tell you about, Dear Reader--one had to do with a group of parents who wanted me gone (fired) from the school system and another had to do with a group of teachers who broke my heart.
Those are the other two stories that I want to share with you in the coming weeks.
to be continued . . .