Oh woe is me!

I must vent, I apologize ahead of time that this isn't so much about my knitting.... it is about my life changing.

Tomorrow I will spend the last half day of school packing up 13 years worth of lesson plans, favorite books, communication symbols by the hundreds and scrubbing out my fish tank to stow away til I go on to my new job at the high school.

Am I sad? YES! Am I an emotional train wreck? Well that ebbs and flows. Today they called us into work early, and I as I expected, threw us a tribute brunch. It was a bit scary to go into the room of hall neighbors, friends, colleagues and administrators. Scary because I knew I would not be able to contain my emotions.

Only my staff knows how much I can cry if challenged!

It was beautiful to hear the principal praise our efforts at including our kids into some of the programming at our elementary school. It was moving to listen to him describe how one of our students donned a ref shirt during the staff and student B-Ball game. This boy may not have know the rules of the game but he was connected to what was happening and was cheering on his favorite staff people in such a way that there were few dry eyes. This boy came to me so afraid of strangers and new spaces. He has gravitational insecurity, due to his syndrome, and a weakness in depth perception. We all witnessed his growth in tolerance of frenzied activities, noises and unfamiliar events. He had the time of his life thanks to growing more comfortable and trusting in this school.

The principal acknowledged many of our efforts to create a learning space that supported and challenged our kids. He spoke of our devotion to the kids and our ability to be a collaborative team. As he said, the SP ED department may have a plan, but that plan did not allow for any input from our administrators or families. That is how businesses are run, the design team has a vision, we must wait to see as it unfolds whether or not it will be the best possible environment for our learners.

Last week our Multi Handicapped students and staff were the lead act in the school "American Idol" Talent show. We gestured, sang, and danced to the song from Dirty Dancing, "We've Had the Time of Our Lives". We were even joined by our fifth grade friends (girls who love our boys!!) and the crowd was on their feet with applause. We announced to the audience that we all would be moving on new classrooms, new teachers, and new schools. There was an audible whisper of "NOOOO!" from the young kids and many staff who had no idea that our program is being relocated to a school across the city. The outpouring of love and support since then has been constant.

I am so sad to leave the comfort of this place that I think of as home. I am sadder to leave behind the para, (a teacher's aide) who has made me look good as I do what I do, and who like mental telepathy, can sense where I am heading during a lesson or activity and she never misses a beat. (Not to mention her tough love attitude when faced with my emotional weepiness, and my efforts to ward off doomsday predictions when planning field trips.)

I will miss you more than you know. I feel a lot like Dorothy at the end of the movie Wizard of Oz,  as she said goodbye to all of her friends. Maybe the balloon will lift off without me and I can stay, but I really don't think that will happen.

So blog readers, thank you for indulging me in my sad goodbyes to a school that I have loved (and detested), to my administrators who supported me and sometimes held my feet to the fire, to my staff and colleagues who inspired me and tolerated my studious attention to minute details, and to my students.... maybe going to the high school will increase my odds of seeing you again as freshmen?


Patricia said…
Erin...I stand here and shout a big Italian "Brava!" You are a hero. Change is hard. But after my 69 years of life, one thing I know that is constant is change. Nothing stays the same...the good and the bad. So let go and go with the flow of life. Trust that it will lead to good. You come from a place of authenticity and you will be fine and so will "your kids!" In the meantime, rest in the knowledge that you have touched lives and you have made a difference. I salute you!
Evelyn said…
What a beautiful post from a truly beautiful woman!! I absolutely believe that when one door closes, another opens, and when we step through the threshhold of the "new" door, we open ourselves to so many amazing experiences, people, and opportunities. I know that new beginnings are never easy but they can be exciting and heck, isn't that what life should be about?? I hope this first day of your summer break is filled with long walks, good company, good food, some knitting, and smiles. xox
Cathy said…
Erin I love your blog!!! The comments above are beautifully written and oh so true! Embrace the journey that lies before you. You have worked hard to get where you are and you will be wonderful in this new challenge. You have proved over and over again that faith, perserverance and determination will always help us achieve what we set out to do. Change can be good for the soul. I always and only wish the very best for you. Enjoy these two glorious summer months. Hope to see you around the Town or maybe we'll even connect on one of our trips to Maine. Love Ya my forever friend! I don't know how to make this like the ones above showing the name and the date -- sorry! Cathy xo
Cathy said…
well what do you know not sure how I did it but it worked! lol
The Other Erin Mc said…
Erin, this blog is so sweet and sad. It brought tears to my eyes. You were my first mentor in our field, and I always was inspired by your devotion, depth of knowledge, and constant willingness to grow and learn for your students. I loved reading about what your principal had to say about the program...it sounds like you (and your wonderful para) really taught others what is so special about your students, and I am so happy for everyone there that they opened up the kids and let them into their hearts, as everyone should. You will bring endless amounts of energy, creativity and humility to your new job at the high school, and you are on your way to inspire a whole new group of colleagues and students. It's been quite a while since we worked together, but know that I am grateful for all you did for me in our two years as co-workers. Best wishes and lots of love! Erin
Erin_in_Boston said…
Patricia... do you know I often have you in mind as I reread a post before putting it up on the blog. I anticipation what your reaction might be, and the effect of your advice on me. There are times I feel as though I am in a conversation with you as I compose the blog entry.. Your comments often evoke memories of my favorite aunt Weezie, who was my cheerleader and spiritual guide when I was in my late teens and early twenties. How is it that I feel this affinity for you? Past lives overlapping maybe?
Erin_in_Boston said…
Evelyn, your philosophy is a familiar one. I try to view events of change and challenge as lessons to be learned, but the emotions that drove me to tears so often in the past week seemed to cloud my usual optimism. In the past three years it has been a daily practice to mentally name and then express gratitude for the gifts in my life. I used to feel so weighted by the responsibilities on my shoulders, but once I began the practice of identifying the good things in my life, I ended up with a blissful smile on my face. I know it may sound sappy to some who haven't heard of the practice, but trust me when I say this, it is like magnetism.... when you send out positive energy, it comes back to you.
Erin_in_Boston said…
Hi Cathy! The comments you read on this particular post are from two new "internet" knitting friends. They have come into my life and as I said in my comment to Patricia, their attention to my blog and subsequent comments really inspire me and bring me such positive energy.
I started this blog at the urging of Michaela, who in all honesty, was tired of hearing about my latest knitting escapades or discoveries. She helped me get started and I have loved writing here ever since!
As far as faith , perseverance, and determination... I think we should start a club! You have done similar amazing things in your pursuit of your nursing degree and professional rise at the MGH; and it was done as you raised your family and tried so hard to balance all of the demands of being a mom, a daughter, a friend, and a wife. No easy feat, but when you rise to the challenges life places before you, you often discover elements of your character you never realized you had.
I admire your life's journey and am glad to have been a witness to your endeavors from the start... remember having tea while our kids were in kindergarten? So long ago, how time has flown!
Erin_in_Boston said…
Hi my other Erin! I am so glad to hear from you and want to thank you for your kind words. I may have been a mentor to you , but do you know that you inspired me as well? You came in with high expectations for our students and a hearty belief in their ability to learn, no matter how challenging their disability. I loved to witness your professional approach to developing lessons and routines, and I was often sad that we didn't have door to door access to each other's rooms.
As for the comments of the principal, perhaps I didn't make it clear that he held the entire team in high regard, not just me and my superstar para, Lisa. All of the people who have worked in MH have risen to the challenges and have grown in their love for the kids, and often, in their amazement at what these kids can do when you teach a skill and then step away to watch the student demonstrate their understanding of what you taught. And you know that sometimes it takes days, weeks or even months, but we have been able to instill in our team that these kids CAN learn and that they will show us in their unique way, some element of the skill or lesson.
As for your very kind comments about how I inspired you when we worked together and that it will continue in my new school... I know you are right. I need to view this move as one where I can do what I have done in a new arena, with new staff and colleagues. I guess one never knows the effect they have until something like this occurs. I feel a bit like George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life. Thank you for your kind and genuine words. Love to you, your family and your little boy!

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