Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Northern Cal and into San Fran--part 4

So I'm traveling down Highway 101 again and suddenly see a sign pointing to the right that reads "Mendicino Coast." I take that road, hoping it will take me to Mendicino, California, where I am to stay the night.

Soon thereafter I regret taking this road because it is so curvy--curvier and much longer than the Tail of the Dragon in East Tennessee! After many miles, finally I come to a tiny community and stop to ask some locals if this road will take me to Mendicino and if there are many more curves left?? The answer to both questions is "yes." "Just stay on this road and you will evenually come to Mendicino." Though the afternoon is wanning, I decide to relax and to be incredibly patient with this curvy road.

Then suddenly, I am on the coast again! I am on the famous Highway One! The dramatic scenery takes my breath away! The beauty of the coast I can somewhat capture below, but not the golden loveliness of the "sea oats" blowing in the wind to the left of the coastal road. That image will stay in my mind's eye.

The Mendicino Coast

Since it's nearly dark when I get to the town of Mendocino, I walk around it that evening but have to mostly appreciate the small Victorian town/village of Mendicino the next morning. I love it! It's full of cottages and cottage gardens! And the whole town is walkable!

Outside my small b & b.

Mendocino is surrounded on three sides with views like this.

One side of the town of Mendicino

Thankfully, I have been directed to another road to take out of the town late that morning that will take me back to Highway 101 and to San Franciso! That road goes through sunny wine country with miles and miles of fields of grapes and more grapes--impossible to capture their beauty and fragrance in a photo.

Eventually, I arrive in San Franisco and as with coming into Portland, Oregon, I am treated to an image of the skyline of the city and to the famous Golden Gate Bridge! I realize that both countryside and cities are beautiful from a distance. One is God-made and the other God-made through the minds and hands of man.

In San Fran, I stay at the Zen Center, a perfect place to stay for peace--an island in the midst of the busyness and noise and excitment of SF! Getting there takes me up, up, up and down, down, down some of SF"s well-known streets. The Zen Center is near Hayes Street, a perfect place to walk to for meals and shopping and sight seeing.

This indoor/outdoor meditation patio/garden is part of the Zen Center!

Here is the room for yoga.

While in San Francisco, I go to the Janpanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Bridge Park, for I have been told that there is a life-size Buddha statue there, and I want to see it.

I love the Buddha and don't want to leave it or the lovely garden. I stay there for a couple hours and have a tasty lunch and fortune cookies with jasmine tea!

Besides staying at the Zen center, near Hayes Street, and walking and lunching at the Japanese Tea Gsrden, another highlite of my time in San Fran is having dinner with a former student of mine--Michael Abrams, who had recently moved there! It was so good to see a familiar face, and he is a delightful young man.We enjoy catching up with one another.

With tears in my eyes, the next morning I say farewell to San Francisco and to the whole west coast experience and to my incredible 10-day journey. For the first time, while on a trip, I am not particularly enthused about returning home. Once home, I will have time to explore that emotion.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Northern California--Part 3

As I'm leaving the coast of Oregon and heading into California, the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor is a lovely stretch of coast.

Though it doesn't show in all its beauty, often there would be so many colors of blues.

And oftentimes the sun would strike a scene and throw shadows in just the right way.

Once past Crescent City, California, the coastal redwoods began, and I drove through several stretches of redwoods, where a sign would tell us to turn on our head lights and where just a ribbon of the blue sky would show overhead through the greens! Truly no picture does these magnificent trees justice. You just have to be there and walk among them and feel their immense presence and smell them!

 Then I was in Trinidad, California, where I was to stay for the night. The next morning, I discovered it to be one of my favorites of the small towns. I liked the small cabin I stayed in and the delightful hike which the host had directed me to the next morning.

If you know me at all, you will know how excited I was to meet and converse with these sea kayakers taking off the Pacific Ocean here at Trinidad!

Trinidad, California.

There's more to come as I travel on the most curvatious road I've ever been on . . .

Friday, October 19, 2018

Part 2--the Oregon Coast

The morning of Thursday, October 4, I say a brief goodbye to Portland and travel west to the coast on Route 26. It's about 90 minutes before I reach Coastal Highway 101!

There I stop at Ecola State Park for my first view of the Oregon coast and at Cannon Beach and the famous Haystack Rock.

As you will notice, the Northern Pacific Ocean beaches are filled with lovely sea stacks, but none more famous than this one--Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach.

I met two friends along the way!

Further along the coast on my way to Depoe Bay, my first stop for the night.

What I captured in this picture is the cars to the left--some of Coastal Highway 101--is quite high up!

A high hike at Cape Lookout between Tillamook Bay and Pacific City. Look through the trees and see the shore; I could hear the roar of the surf on this hike.

Depoe Bay at sunset where I stayed at the Inn at Arch Rock and got to view lots of whales coming into the bay the next morning.

A home I came across hiking aroound Depoe Bay at sunrise--the flowers here love the mild climate.

After Depoe Bay, I traveled south to Bandon-on-the-Beach. The day was cloudy and light rain. On this day I crossed many long, high bridges over inlets and bays.

Famous sea lions just a few feet away from the bay front at Newport. We all laughed when they barked.

Even on a cloudy day, the coast is beautiful.

Lighthouse at Bandon.

Bandon Beach.

Though I came across lots of cars heading north with surf boards on their tops, I only saw these guys wind surfing.

Typical beaches with logs washed up. Those are large logs to the right.

Stay turned--I'm about to cross over the California border and get into the legendary redwoods!

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Oregon and Northern California Coast--What a Journey!--Part 1

This was my fourth or fifth solo journey, depending on how you count it. (I went solo that week in 2000 on the Colorado River of the Grand Canyon but met a group from Adventure Women there to float down with.) New England was my first totally solo trip, but since going to the East Coast, on my other trips, I've traveled to the West--Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, Zion and Arches and Capitol Reef and Bryce, and this latest to the Oregon and Northern California Coast!

This trip, like the one to Southern Utah, was indeed a 10-day journey. I flew into Portland, Oregon, where I stayed for two days, rented an SUV, and drove down the coastal highway 101, stopping for the night in four small towns along the way--Depoe Bay, Bandon-on-the-Beach, Trinidad, and Mendocino--until I got to San Francisco, where I stayed for two nights.

My main goal was to be on that coastal highway and view the Pacific Ocean--to hike the trails along the ocean and into the redwoods in California. That was accomplished, but I also was in some really cool towns along the way.

If I had it to do over again, I would stay for two nights in each small town. As it was, I only had the mornings to explore the small towns and their environments on the coast, and that was not enough time to really see them and to relax into their atmosphere.

Each afternoon I would travel along the coastal highway 101, stopping where I wanted and had planned to stop. Oregon called the overlooks "view points" and California called them "vista points," and I believe that I stopped at most of them! On an average, I would take two hikes a day, but sometimes three. Each night, filled with the fresh Pacific Ocean air, I slept extremely well.

This was my first view of the Oregon coast at Ecola State Park, but there will be other, even more dramatic views to come!

Thanks to the gods that be, except for one cloudy rainy day, the weather was perfectly blue skies and sunshine! Just what was needed to see the gorgeous view and vista points and to hike along the way.

In Portland--the city of many bridges (nine, I think)--I stayed near Nob Hill and was able to walk to restaurants (My favorite was Elephant Deli!) and shop as I wanted to. In that city, I took two tours--one of the city--and another of the Columbia Gorge and waterfalls along the way. Ten or so diverse people in a Mercedes van and me, and on both tours, I was the first to be picked up at my hotel, so I got to see even more of the city as we picked up the others.

Brunch at Elephant Deli!

I learned so much on both tours. Like that Porland, Oregon, was named after Portland, Maine, because the two settlers were from Portland and Boston and they flipped a coin to name the city! Though Voodoo doughnuts was a good stop, my favorite stop on the city tour was to the Chinese garden. Right in the middle of the bustling city was this most peaceful and lovely place, with crystal clear ponds filled with colorful swimming koi and with the tinkling sounds of waterfalls and the autunm colors of nature in all her splender. (The Lan Su Chinese Garden opened in the year 2000 to shed light on Chinese culture and history after the city developed a relationship with its sister city of Suzhou, China. This tranquil environment blends rocks, plants, trees, gardens, and a lake on about 40,000 square feet, roughly a city block, of land in central Portland.)

Another favorite stop of mine was the world-famous international rose test garden in Portland's Washington Park, an intensely fragant rose garden of 600 varieties of roses that bloom into late autumn in Portland's mild climate.

The next day on the Columbia gorge tour I saw a river that separates two states--Oregon from Washington--and that flows into the Pacific Ocean. Surrounded by the Cascade Mountain range--the Cascades, with Mount Hood being the highest mountain and the mountain that Portland claims for her own. Luckily, it was a clear day, and we could see Mount Hood, which sometimes disappears into the clouds, from several places along the way.

The Columbia River gorge.

The wild maple trees; the leaves were huge.

Mount Hood above the city of Portland.

Mount Hood viewed through a city garden.

I discovered something interesting in both of the big cities--Portland and San Francisco--the homeless, the street people are so prevalent in contrast to in Nashville, for example. Asking the tour guide about this, she responded that it's not illegal to be homeless in Portland. She also did not think that their percentge of homeless was any more than in other large US cities. As I thought about it, I guess that in Nashville that if you are not in a shelter by nightfall, you get picked up and put in jail. As if the city owned the streets, but if we think about it, it's really us, the people, who pay for and own the streets. An interesting difference in how cities view the street people.

Also an interesting tidbit about Oregon is that I had read it was a state that was a "whites only" state in its beginning, and my other tour guide confirmed this fact. "No blacks" was the motto at one time, and he said that it was still mostly whites though Portland has become a liberal city, as I saw signs like this in many shop windows.

Stay tuned for more text and pictures to come  . . .

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Memoir--When They Tried to Get Me Fired!

It was after church that Sunday autumn afternoon in 2005 when I got a call from one of the parents of my Dual Enrollment Senior English class students. She told me that a small group of parents had gathered at the Harpeth High School library to talk about having me fired. By then I had been teaching in Cheatham County for 33 years and was 56 years old.

In shock, I called my principal. She wondered aloud how thay had gotten into the school building and who had given them permission. She and I had an idea who had a key to the library and who had let them in. Then I called my English Department chair. He knew that I had taken my senior class to the Hindu temple and to Cheekwood on Thursday of that week and asked me about that field trip. We discussed how he and I had been teaching about the major religions through literature for 10 years with no objections and how I had been taking my students on fieldtrips to the Hindu temple and Cheekwood's Japanese garden for many years.

(We discussed how I had been disappointed in several of my students for waiting until the day of the field trip to decide that they were not going. Besides having to edit the number of students attending the field trip and having to change the lunch reservations, I had not hired a sub for the class of students going on the field trip.  Asking another teacher to take these "left-over" students during her planning period, I had to come up with extra "lesson plans" for them. Along with these lesson plans, I wrote a note to these students, chastising them for their late notice about this field trip, but the very next day Friday, I wrote another note apologizing to these students for my being so angry.)

Things were especially tense for me that Monday morning at school. Sure enough during my planning period I was asked to come to the principal's office. My department chair went with me. The meeting actually took place in the conference room next to the principal's office. At the long table there, the principal, department chair, and I sat on one side, and four men and one woman sat on the other side. The parents would not look me in the eye. Later I was told that they had asked that I not be there, but my principal had insisted.

The group of parents had compiled a rather long list of detailed complaints against me. They quoted passages from the Board of Education's policies, saying that I had not adhered to those policies. It was obvious that their children, my students, had helped them with this list. These parents were the parents of four female students in my class who had not attended the field trip.

According to the parents, they wanted me permanently removed from the classroom and from Harpeth High School that very week or else they would take their complaints to the director of schools (which they did the very next day) and if she did not remove me, they would "pursue all possible channels to remove me from the classroom."

Among other things, the group of parents claimed that I had not used a school-approved bus for the field trip and that I had not obtained individual parental permission slips, and they were right, because we were such a small group of students, we had gone in cars, and I had had the parents sign a form at the semester's beginning about the planned field trips.

They further claimed that I had made a sexual comment to a student and that I used sexually explicite language in my classroom.

(Although  it was unknown to me, they were particularly upset about a remark I had made two weeks earlier when one of my female students had received a rather large bouquet of roses from the boy she was dating. We had just finsihing reading, discussing, and writing about the poem "To His Coy Mistress," by Andrew Marvel. It is a perfect example of a carpe diem poem, and seduction is the theme of the poem. When the rather huge vase of flowers was delivered to my classroom, I made some off-the-cuff comment about what the boyfriend's expectations/intentions were. It was one of those, "you-had-to-be-there" comments, and it fit the classroom discussion, but taken out of context, I then realized that it sounded really bad. No one had told me that this incident had apparently been widely discussed around the school. No one told me that the girl or that her parents were upset.)

Though it seemed as if they had talked to many others about this incident, neither the student nor the parents had come to talk to me about the remark. Having no idea that my remark had offended the girl, I was clueless.

They also claimed that I regularly made indirect sexual innuendoes in my class----such as I would say, "Don't bang your books on the floor!" and that I used the f-word in class--which really astounded me--for  I had not used profanity in my classroom. It was discovered that they were referring to the word "fart" (which is, of course, not a sexual word).

They claimed that I was not following the Nashville State Community College curriculum, and I explained that this was a dual enrollment class and that it combined the NSCC curriculum with our AP English IV curriculum. Apparently, they had contacted NSCC about me! Since I was an adjunct teacher for NSCC and taught there in the summer, I was embarrassed.

These were their major complaints about me, but oh my, there were many, many others (5 single-spaced pages worth!) You could tell that they had scoured the hundreds of pages of board of education policies, and with the help of their children, my students, they had come up with any possible number of ways that I had "blantantly and regularly ignored the policies of the school board and the civil liberties of our children"--from having the students not attending the field trip do work in class the day of the field trip to the questioning of my qualifications to teach about the faith traditions, from the "majority of Ms. Mallernee's class focused on religious subjects" to my "avoiding, ignoring, and circumventing school board policies and state and federal laws." Further they labeled me as "vinditive person." 

Yes, much of the complaint had to do with the teaching about religions. Yet, at one point, they complained that with over half the semester over, the class had only studied about the Hindu and Buddhist religions and still had Judaism and Christianity and Islam to cover!

(What they didn't mention is that we had also covered poetry, myths, the nonfiction books The Power of Myth and Dance of the Dissident Daughter, the novels Life of Pi, The Power of OneThings Fall Apart, and Siddhartha. In this course, one of my faults was in trying to cover too much material! Usually, in addtion to many other subjects/topics, as time permitted, we studied about Eastern religions in the first half of the semester and about Western religions in the second half of the semester. At the semester's end, because of time limitations and our extensive study of literature and composition, it was the study of  Islam that often got short-changed .)

One thing was clear--the students (and their parents) did not like my chastising them about not telling me that they were not going on the field trip until the day of the field trip.

I did receive one rather telling note from the parents of one of the students who did not attend the field trip. They said that she did not do the assigned work that I had given them to do in class that day because they felt that the class work was punishment for her not going on the field trip. They further said that they "would not allow her to go to a pagan house of worship or to a Zen meditation garden to participate in a religion that we do not recognize." The student herself had said that she did not go on the field trip because she feared missing basketball practice that afternoon.

It was definitely the roughest weeks of my teaching career. I felt betrayed by a few of my students and ostracized by most of the faculty. (Thank goodness I was a member of the Tennessee Education Association, who supplied me with a lawyer to talk to who said that the parents didn't have a case.) Thank goodness I had a supportive principal, some good friends, a few colleagues, and former students who called and wrote letters on my behalf to the director of schools. Thank you again to all who did write those wonderful letters!

But I have to say that most of the Harpeth High School teachers acted as if I had done something terribly wrong and did not offer support to me, but instead they ignored me and made me feel like a leper--like someone to be avoided. It felt amost as if they agreed with these parents.

Here was the outcome: I was removed from the classroom for one day as someone from the central office talked to the whole class about me. Then one by one each of my students was taken out of my class and "interviewed" by this central office person. One student later told me that it was definitely a "witch hunt"!

The remainder of the semester, I was not allowed to teach about the tenets of Western religions nor to go on our second planned field trip to the Parthenon and to a Jewish synagogue, and I had to teach "only literature" and composition--so I chose to teach about the Greeks--Plato and Socrates--and  to teach the dramas Oedipus Rex and Anigone, Shakespeare's Julius CaesarThe ChosenMurder in the Cathedral and Hamlet (all of which I was going to teach anyway).

And finally, to "protect" the students from me, everyday the then vice-principal (a former coach) came in and sat in my class for the rest of the semester. On most days he fell asleep!

(But much later, I recalled my department chair's telling me that the present girls' basketball coach [a former Cheatham County Central High School student of mine] had said that when he was a student, I "had given him a 'D' in English and that he was one day going to be my principal and have my job!" [Ironically, he lost his own job the next year.] So I had to wonder about this connection since two of the students involved were major senior ball players.)

Now I also realize that all of this calamity could have been avoided if only the student who received the flowers (and her parents) had come to me and let me know that I had hurt her feelings with my off-hand remark. I had no idea, and now I believe that that incident had been the beginning of all this unnecessary drama.

Life lesson--if someone makes a remark that bothers you, talk directly to that person, instead of to everyone else!

Also if the students who were not going on the field trip had been upfront with me, this situation could have been avoided.

Later that semester one of the students involved wrote a letter to me, apologizing for her part in the situation and for what her parents had tried to do.

Things never were the same for me after those weeks of hurt and anxiety. It was obvious that much of this story had circled the school and leaked out into the community. I retired from teaching five years later. After nearly 40 years of teaching in Cheatham County, it was time to move on.

Friday, April 20, 2018

What I loved to Teach About and Why Some Wanted Me Fired for Teaching Such Things

If you've read much of my blog, you'd know that the one part of my teaching career that I was most proud of was the teaching about the different major religions through literature.

How this got started was that I had this idea that with our world changing so much--with so many different cultures becoming a part of the United States, we could be a more loving and compassion people if we understood some of what these different peoples believed.

(Plus the truth is that I wanted to study the different reliigions myself to see what they had to say about God, the universe, death, etc.)

Traditionally in public school across our nation (and here in Kingston Springs,) the sophomore English year was a hodge podge of grammar and literature, while the junior year was American literature and the senior year was British literature. Now I had noticed that in most private schools, their sophomore year was the study of world literature.

What I convinced my then principal of was to allow our English department to let our sophomores study American literature, our juniors study British literature and our seniors study world literature. That way our students would not lose anything--like the study of great bodies of American and British literature--but they would be mature enough to study about the world through some major pieces of world literture and through the major  religions. And their literature experience would be an ever-widening circle to include everyone and all cultures, as I hoped their education would be.

This was in the 90s and I began to study and to learn and to teach though literature as gently as possible about the major Eastern faith traditions such as Hinduism and Buddhism and Taoism and about the major Western faith traditions such as Judaism and Christianity and Islam. The actual studies of these religions were quite superficial--highlighting only the very basics of each religion. (For I was discovering that any one of these faith traditions could be studied in depth for the rest of one's life; they were that complex and complicated!) But it was a beginning point for high school students and for me.

I searched for the "perfect" pieces of literature to wrap each study around. For example for Hinduism and Christianity and Islam, it was the novel Life of Pi , and for Buddhism, it was the novel Siddhartha, and for Christianity it was the drama Murder in the Cathedral, and for Judaism it was the novel The Chosen. We also studied Antigone and Julius Caesar and Things Fall Apart and one year we even read The Shack! Except for the last title mentioned, they are all such great pieces of literature. (Though I loved the ideas in The Shack, the writing itself was not good enough to rank as great literature.) We read Huston Smith's renowned book entitled The World's Religions and Philip Novac's The World's Wisdom.

Wow, I'm getting enthused all over again just describing the class to you! We studied extremely short excerpts from the Bible, from the Vedas, from the Torah, from the Gita, from the Quran (Koran), and  from The Tao de Ching. (After we transitioned Advanced Placement English to Dual Enrollment English these excerpts usually came from our college composition textbook entitled World of Ideas.) The course work eventually became too much to study for the allotted time--especially after the high school transitioned to block scheduling, whereby the class was "shortened" to a semester, albeit 90 minutes a day, but that meant we had fewer weeks to read and study each great piece of literature. Thus we could not study all of the works mentioned in the paragraph above in one year; which ones we studied over the years varied somewhat. I was searching for the literature that the students would appreciate, and I was attempting to balance out the studies about the religions. If I didn't watch out, the course work could be slanted toward the religion I knew the most about--Chritianity.

I worked hard not to proselytize concerning these religions or any religion, for I knew that in public schools, we could study about the religions, but that I as a teacher could not try to convert anyone to any religion. Hardly was that my intention! As the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly said, "[i]t might well be said that one's education is not complete without a study of comparative religion, or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization."

I worked hard to annihilate stereotypes and misconceptions concerning these religions. To this end, I tried to incorporate some meaningful and educational field trips into our semester. One of my favorite field trips was to the Hindu temple on Old Hickory Boulevard in Bellevue. Our guide there was always so gracious and heart-warming that the students could see her spirituality shine through her face and could understand how someone could be as fervent about their beliefs as we might be about our own. To her delight, one year our principal chose to go on this field trip with us.

What is beautiful about the Hindu faith is that they believe in accepting all of the other religions as legitimate paths to God. They do not believe in one "right" way! As a matter of fact, we discovered that it is primarily some Christian denominations that believe in this "only one right way to God" idea.

Hopefully, our study was opening minds and opening hearts! And thus we continued for many, many years until as the saying goes, someone decided to throw a wench into the works!

to be continued . . .


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Memoir: "Shout out your sadness and pain. This can bring you back to normal."

Recently passing Harpeth High School after a spring hike, my friend said to me, "There's the school. What do you feel when you pass it?"

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 would say that they are private and no one else's business but mine. She says that readers who don't know me at all will think, "Boy, she sure feels sorry for herself " Or else that I will appear "whiney and vindictive."

As people who know me know, I do not feel sorry for myself nor do I ask for pity. As a rule, I am not a complainer and certainly not vindictive. But I will tell my stories 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 and perhaps help others understand their own stories and heal themselves.

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.

Thus ended my nearly 40- year  career as a teacher in Cheatham County. There were no farewells, no goodbyes. About nine months later, my daughter and a former student of mine and one of my co-workers from Cheatham County Central High School hosted a retirement party for me in a beautiful venue in Nashville. They put a lot of work and love into it, and it was a really fine get-together, filled with many former students and some faculty, but it was bittersweet for me. Harpeth High School, where I had spent the last 25 years of my career, never even acknowledged my leaving the profession.

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 . . .