Today, it is my principal's birthday. And, being that it's a snow day and I can't really say any of this stuff to her in person (not that I probably would), I decided to write her a blog post.
Some people will take this is a big brown nosing, suck up session. But, whatevs. To each their own. For the gifts that this woman has bestowed on to me over the past year and a half, I figured the least I could do was write a blog post to tell how much I'm grateful for her and how important she is to me. On this day. Her birthday.
So, actually, this blog will probably be more about me..and the impact my boss has had on me.
Some of you have heard these stories many times before, some of you haven't. But, I'm bundling them all up right here as a tribute to an amazing woman... who for this post, will be referred to as Mrs. P.
Let's rewind back to two years ago.
To one of the lowest times in my life.
It was the end of April, 2012. I remember it very well. I was a teaching assistant in a school district I loved, and where I had my heart set on becoming a teacher. I had worked my behind off since August of 2011 trying to prove that I was worthy of having my own classroom. When I was asked to jump, I replied with not only the usual "how high?", but with "and how many flips would you like me to do in the air?" You wanna talk about brown nosing? I was the queen of it. If there was anything that needed to be done, committees that needed members, after school commitments that I had absolutely no requirement to do, I was volunteering to do them all. I pulled kids for small group work, I worked in classrooms alongside teachers, I would have given my right arm to have the sweet reward of knowing I had done all that to earn the coveted classroom.
But, when the jobs started to become available, I was passed over. I had to fight for an interview, and they never went very well. I was given the cold, hard dose of reality in realizing that it didn't appear like I was wanted in the school district I had put so much time and effort in to. And it hit me. Hard. Causing me to become an emotional, depressed, wreck.
So, I started to broaden my horizons and look elsewhere. After speaking to a substitute that was working in one of the classrooms, one day, he told me about this school district called "Mac County". It's where he'd gone to school, and where he planned on working the following year. A little research gave me the school district, and the realization that even though the district was in another state, it wasn't really that far from me. So, I sent in an online application. Kinda, sorta, nonchalantly... thinking it wouldn't hurt to at least apply for the jobs posted.
The second week of May, I received a call from Mrs. P. She asked if I'd be willing to come in for an interview. She scheduled the interview for May 22nd. The day after school was getting out for summer.
On the actual day, I was nervous and excited. But, in all honesty? I hadn't really given up hope that I was going to receive a call from my current principal offering me a teaching job. I knew a position was coming available, and I just thought for sure she was going to give that job to me. So, when it came to the interview in Mac County, I just decided to be myself and see what happened. It wasn't like they were going to offer me the job on the spot, so I'd have time to figure stuff out.
When I got to the school, I was greeted by two women sitting in the office. They were pleasant, and asked me to take a seat as the interview before me was still going on (it seems funny now, thinking back, that one of those women would end up being one of the people I am most close to now). About ten minutes later, I watched a woman leave and a tall man greeted me and led me to a conference room. In that room were four women and the guy that had led me in. I was then introduced to the women: The assistant superintendent for curriculum, the principal of the primary school, Mrs. P, the principal for another elementary school in the county, a fourth grade teacher, and the man was the assistant principal of the school I was in.
I honestly don't remember a whole lot about the actual interview. I remember being asked questions and not feeling the usual fear I was used to feeling during interviews. I was pretty relaxed, very honest, and just kept running in my mind to just be myself. I made a few jokes, I explained some ideas, and then I remember hearing words I never thought I was going to here. It was after I had asked my final question of how long it would be before they made any decisions. The words came from the assistant superintendent "oh, I believe we are definitely going to offer you a job, it's just figuring out where to put you".
I was then asked to take a tour of the building with the 4th grade teacher that was in the interview while they discussed the situation.
As I walked around that building, I couldn't tell you a single thing that was said to me. I can't tell you what I looked at or where I went. I just remember trying with all my might to hold back tears, and waiting to find out what they meant by "where to put you".
And then, there she was. Mrs. P. Telling me she wanted to hire me right there and then as the new 4th grade teacher in her building. She hugged me as tears sprang to my eyes. And from that moment on, I realized I hadn't been spending that year as a teacher's assistant to prepare me for getting a job in that school. I was preparing myself to get a job working in another district all together. Another state. At a place that wanted me for who I was. For a person that knew NOTHING about me, and was totally OK with that.
The woman that took a chance on me when no one else would.
My first year teaching, I've never felt so supported or taken care of. I was called in to Mrs. P's office several times throughout the year just so she could check in on me, and ask me how I was doing. She asked me what she could do to make sure I stayed working for her... which was kind of a silly question. I had made the decision on the day she had offered me a job that I'd go to the end of the earth for this woman. All she had to do was renew my contract each year, and I was golden.
Even though I was so appreciative of her through my first year teaching, it wasn't until this year that I saw a side of her I hadn't seen during that first year. All that year I had spent feeling nervous and shy around her. Just wanting to make her happy, and making sure I was doing everything I was supposed to do.
But this year? It has been so different.
I've had lots of "situations" that I probably wouldn't have mentioned last year... due to it being my first year, and not wanting to come off as being a whiny baby. This year, I've thrown caution to the wind and visited her office several times just to have a whiny baby fest. And each time, she's given me a swift kick in the caboose. She's reinforced my motivation, my passion, and repaired any damage that was starting to form. Just with a few simple words: Do What You Do!!
What I love about her is the fact that she doesn't sugar coat. She doesn't BS. She tells me exactly how she sees it, and doesn't just feed me what I want to hear. She scolds my self doubt and reminds me that I'm no whiny baby. It's not very becoming of me. I'm stronger than that, and I have to trust myself and be willing to take a few risks. You have no idea how refreshing it is to have someone be so honest.
She has reminded me that I can't always be like other teachers. That I have a uniqueness. One that was the main reason she hired me. It was my ideas, my passion, and my willingness to never give up that wouldn't let me out the door that day without snatching me up.
And she's taught me that it's OK to use the word NO once in a while.
There have been times I've gone in to the office just for a friendly chat, and have never been turned away. She makes me laugh. She gets me. And even on days where she's super busy, her door has always been open.
During the time of finding out about my mom's illness, she was front and center offering any support and help she could give. Even going as far as keeping Jelly at her house for the night so that I could go to a doctor's appointment with my mom.
Speaking of which, let's take a second to recap all that she's done for my children.
Mrs. P is one of the few people in that school building that knows the FULL story of Butter's past. And not EVER has it ever phased her thoughts about him. Not EVER has it clouded her judgement as how to "deal" with him. The love, support, and kindness she's shown him made a HUGE impact on his school life. For the first time since kindergarten, he loves school. LOVES IT. He's had to visit her a few times. He's received a paddle to his behind a few times. But, each and every time it's come from Mrs. P... it's hurt him worse emotionally than it did physically. Only because it hurt him to upset her. He felt like he was disappointing her...letting her down. However, any discipline issue has been followed up with words of encouragement, support, and praise. And even though he has left her office sad, he has always been motivated to do better.
Let's talk Peanut. That girl has always loved school, so she was a pretty easy one to add to the mix. But, her first year was tough. The new girl. In a school full of kids that had known each other their whole lives. She was the outsider, and it took a lot for her to acclimate herself to the environment. And one of the biggest support systems Peanut had during that transition time was Mrs. P. Peanut's personality reminds me a lot of Mrs. P. Peanut has the upmost respect for Mrs. P, and like me, would go to the ends of the earth for her.
And finally, Jelly. Oh, Jelly. Starting kindergarten was supposed to be one of the most exciting moments in Jelly's life. And on the first couple of days, it was. But, then something changed in Jelly and excitement was replaced with fear. She didn't want to go. She didn't want to leave. She would cry and beg me to stay with her up to the very second she got on the school bus. Of course, she was fine once she got there, but the mornings were REALLY tough for the first few weeks. Then, one day, Mrs. P stepped in to action. I had to do a morning duty, so I'd left Jelly with Peanut to stand and wait for the bus. Mrs. P sent Peanut on her way and had a little talk with Jelly. Mrs. P stood there holding Jelly's hand and talking to her while they waited for the bus. And that started a new thing every morning. It was Mrs. P who she wanted to go out to the bus with. Then, Mrs. P transitioned Jelly in to waiting for the bus with her 2nd grade son. A boy who Jelly has become very close friends with. And to this day, I take Jelly to the door and she waits with Mrs. P's son for the bus. Alone. Without me.
Jelly has formed a very special bond with Mrs. P. Jelly absolutely adores her. She gets very sad if Mrs. P isn't at the school when she gets there at the end of the day. And she asks me almost every day when she's going to get to stay at Mrs. P's house again.
And anyone that knows Jelly would know that there's not many people Jelly feels that comfortable with. So it's a VERY big deal to me that she has built the bond she has with Mrs. P.
At the end of the day, I couldn't ask for a more supportive, honest, caring, and loyal boss.
Yet, this is the last year she's going to be my principal. She has received an amazing promotion, and starting next year will be the new assistant superintendent of curriculum.
When hearing the news, I cried. And, I'll admit, they weren't tears of happiness for her. They were tears of sadness for me. What am I going to do without her? Will I be able to have a relationship anywhere near the level I have with the new principal?
I am happy for her. She definitely deserves the job. And, she's going to be an amazing assistant superintendent. But, that doesn't calm the nerves I feel.
She is my rock. My reassurance in myself. The person I know I can always turn to when the going gets tough, and gets the tough going.
But, today, on her birthday, I want her to know I owe her more than she'll ever know. She made my dreams come true. She has reminded me over and over and over again how truly blessed I am to be working in such an amazing school district. She has shown me friendship. She has cared for my children as if they were her own.
And for all of that, I can never truly repay her.
So, Mrs. P, I hope you have a fantastic birthday. Enjoy the snow day, the time with your family. Enjoy it knowing that you are being thought of and celebrated even though we can't be there to do it in person.
On the day where you should be receiving all the gifts, I want you to know the amazing gifts you have given me.