Reflections on Year 2 and Hopes for Year 3

"Go and find what it is that inspires you, go and find what it is that you love, and go do that until it hurts. Don't quit, and don't give up. The reward is just around the corner. And in times of doubt or joy, listen for that still, small voice. Know that God has been there from the beginning and that He will be there. Until the end." -Joanna Gaines (The Magnolia Story)

Like many people, I love Fixer Upper and the Gaines family. I read Joanna's book back and March and the last quote of her book is what got me to the end of the school year. 

It was a tough second year. And honestly, it surprised me. My first year of teaching was amazing. I loved the group of kids I worked with; we meshed well together. My second year presented a lot of challenges that I didn't expect. 

Multiples calls to DSS. 
Carrying a kicking student down the hall.

 Items stolen from me. 
Students tearing up personal items. 

And a case of head lice (for me). 

It was tough. So tough that I haven't written about it until now...August 1. I've never wanted my blog to come across as unkind or a place were it seems like I hate my job. I don't. But I've also realized, just like everything else in life. There are seasons that are just hard. There are years that are hard. And that's okay. (and its okay to admit things are hard).

In the midst of last year, I had someone tell me, "Sometimes things are hard. But that doesn't mean that you give up. I've always learned the best lessons in the midst of hard seasons. Don't give up."

I can't tell you the amount of times I wanted to quit last year. I wanted to throw in my hat, throw my hands in the air and quit. I wanted to stay under my covers, where it was safe. I wanted to scream my frustrations for everyone to hear. But I didn't. 

I stayed. 

One of my callings in life is to teach. I am so passionate about teaching and education. I could stand on my soapbox all day long talking about it (just ask Thomas). But my bigger calling is loving and providing for my students. 

100% of my students last year received either free or reduced lunch. About half, lived in a single parent home. Many went home each weekend with canned food. Many students at my school live at or below the poverty line. But, that is not their fault. They didn't get to choose who their parents are, or what their parents do for a living. But often times, they are the ones suffering. Going home to an empty kitchen and no toothbrush. Then coming to school in the same clothes as the day before. It's utterly heartbreaking. 

This is why I stay.

I love the kids at my school. I try my hardest to learn all the kids' names,so I can greet them by name as they come off the bus. To compliment them. To ask about their pet cat or their brother who broke his leg. To let the kids know that someone loves them. That someone cares about them and their story (no matter how long in may be). 

That what inspires me. The kids at my school are young (K4-2nd grade), so maybe that's silly of me to think that I'm changing someone's life. But. Then I remember the girl who let me play blocks with her when I came in crying on the first day of kindergarten. I remember the second grade teacher who let me braid her hair. I remember some the acts of kindness I was shown when I was young, so maybe these kids will too.

And maybe they won't. But they will smile and skip down the hallway after our conversation. So even if I impact their lives for 5 seconds, it was worth it. 

This is what I take with me as I start my third year of teaching. Each morning, I hope to wake up with a passion, not just for teaching, but for making a positive impact in students' lives. I wash my hands of last year. I have forgiven and moved on. I will have new students and new memories. 

But one thing will remain constant. The same God who was with me last year (and every year before), will be with me this year. He is faithful. He is redeeming me and every circumstance.