All day I felt like I was a contestant on American Idol. The anxiety they must feel the day they perform, perfecting their song selection and practicing it repeatedly. Preparing their mind and body for the roller coaster they are about to jump on knowing full well that the possibility of elimination lurks in the distance. They must ask themselves.."How did I do today? Did the judges like me? Will America like me? Am I safe from elimination tomorrow night?"
Monday that week I received an email from my boss aka principal to schedule an individual meeting with him after school Friday. In any normal circumstance this would not be alarming. I would actually be excited to meet with him hoping he'd give positive feedback or constructive criticism or some communication that would enable me to grow to be a better teacher. But this was not a normal circumstance, and actually, things haven't been normal for months in my world.
The state gives the schools money, but guess what...the state is short 10 BILLION dollars this year, which means schools statewide will be making budget cuts. And unfortunately those cuts include qualified, great at what they do, compassionate teachers.
So while roommate and I rocked in our hammock and watched the world pass by, our world as we knew it had possibilities of a scary, frightening change. I laid there asking myself "How have I done this year? How does my data look? Does my principal approve? Am I safe from elimination tomorrow night?
But in reality, I have performed exceptionally well this year, my data looks great, my principal approves but I was not safe from elimination and neither was Abby.
Because of the type of contract we hold as 2nd year teachers in the district (not because of how well we do) we were laid off along with 280 other teachers that hold the same type of contract. Ill tell you this...its a weird feeling, to lose the job you love knowing you couldn't have done anything else to change it. I didnt cry when I was with him in the office. I knew it was just as hard for him and that he didn't want to let me go. I know that if/when he can he would hire me back in a heartbeat but I prepared myself for it. I didnt really have much to say either. I just nodded my head and excused myself from the meeting. Immediately after exiting his office I see an unknowing parent waiting for me in the hallway.
"Ms Terry! Ms Terry, Hello. Ive been looking for you"
Raw and overwhelmed I smile and nod "Hi, how are you?"
"Really well actually" she points to her son and my student standing beside her.
"I just wanted to thank you for being such an incredible teacher to my son. He had a terrible 5th grade year, didnt really enjoy science, and now he is loving school thanks to you. So I just wanted you to know"
I look at her son smiling up at me and I lost it. I mean...the UGLY cry! Where your face scrunches up and your eyes dont open no matter how hard you try. I know you know what Im talking about. We've all had one. Abby and the other teachers see the paperwork in my hand and immediately comfort, console and whisk me away from the parent and her son.
I will never forget that the first thing I heard after being laid off was a parent who praised me for changing her sons vision about school. And no matter how low I feel and how hard it is going to be to find a teaching job in the state of Texas, I have to keep trying....for students like that... I have to keep going.
:::UPDATE::::Since being laid off 2 weeks ago I have been overwhelmed with love from parents, teachers and students at my school. The students are especially loving. After hearing the news, my students organized a bake sale to raise money so I could keep my position! Once learning that they would need to raise $55,000 they still wanted to continue with the sale in hopes of donating all the profits to the school. A paper petition was started by my students from last year as well as a facebook group to keep me around. I am so lucky to have such caring students!