Friday, August 13, 2021

A New Chapter

In 2014, I sent this blurry "first day of school" photo to my mom so she wouldn't be sad that it was the first year her kids were all out of high school. She promptly put it on Facebook alongside my first day of Kindergarten picture. A few days ago, it popped up on my timeline: "On this day seven years ago". It was my fourth year of teaching. I'd been married for just over a year, was kid-free, and I didn't know what I didn't know. And now, with another school year beginning and me not being in the classroom, it brought up all of the feels. 

With the 2021-2022 school year essentially here, and me getting asked more frequently, it's probably time for me to share a life update. At the end of June, my resignation from LPS was officially approved. Honestly, typing that still seems weird. I spent the last year on Sabbatical, and with all of the weird COVID stuff, it sort of felt like the school year just didn't happen. Most of the "normal" as I'd known it was gone from a typical school day. So even after a year off, a year where I could have declared my intent to return and been given the first job that popped up, it feels really weird to have the finality and formality of a "resignation".

I haven't known life working anywhere other than Liberty High School, life in the classroom. I graduated from Mizzou, got my job, and planned to stay and teach English forever. Funny how plans change, especially when they are bigger than our own. When I declared my sabbatical at the end of March 2020, for the 2020-2021 school year, I had a three year old and two month old, just enough money in the bank to make it work for a year, and ZERO idea that things would take off the way they had. No idea that the need for outdoor, affordable weddings would sky rocket as result of COVID. And there we were, with a pretty plot of land and a paver aisle. All of a sudden, we found ourselves with 12 weddings, then 20, then eventually 39. And suddenly my sabbatical didn't feel like much of a sabbatical, at least on the fall weekends.

I had no idea that we would fundraise enough money to break ground on a chapel offering free and affordable weddings last winter. That it would open on our 8th wedding anniversary and that we would have a wedding that day, on a Tuesday. No idea that we would end up with ninety bookings for 2021. Ninety!? Truly, I have been blown away again and again through this process. We were never in this for the profit, and we would never be where we are without the support of so many. It is both overwhelming and humbling, and has been risky and rewarding.

All that to say, as we continued to book for 2021, 2022, and beyond, it became very clear to me that it was not going to be possible to return to the classroom, be a mom, and also manage things at The Brim. And if I was going to pick one to step away from at this point, it had to be the classroom- especially with a third little one on the way in January! Do I and will I miss things about teaching? Absolutely. I miss my co-workers. I miss adult interaction, the kids, and (gasp) professional dress. I miss and will miss the laughter and memories in a classroom full of high school kids. The stable schedule and predictability of things. The games and assemblies and being a safe space for a kid to land as they navigated life. To be known as "someone's teacher" and maybe even one they liked. 

But you know what I won't miss? Time with my kids before they are in school. I will get to spend my days with them, and then several evenings at The Brim- the perfect outlet and balance for me to not go crazy spending too much time with only my little people (whom I love very much). I give weekly tours and feel like I'm back in the classroom a bit. I meet with brides for coordination and I feel like I'm planning a very important lesson that will be executed on the biggest day of their lives. We take a couple of student interns every semester and I LOVE working with high school kids in that capacity as they consider their own future endeavors. I've even had a few of my old students get married out there already! I love seeing the way that things have turned out so far, how I feel alive when I'm out there "working". And I sure do love seeing outside every day. 

Although it has felt risky, and scary, and hard along the way, I have no doubt that I am exactly where I'm meant to be right now. I have no regrets, only deep gratitude and joy for my years spent teaching. I would not have traded the nearly decade of memories and experiences that shaped who I am today for anything. I have immense respect for teachers and will always champion them as much as they deserve. And I can't wait to see what comes next! 




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