Last night I received an award. It was an award given through our five county teachers’ union, the Feather River Service Center Council. My award was for Outstanding Teacher. I was touched and honored to receive it, and enjoyed a really nice evening at the banquet. It is wonderful anytime anyone recognizes you for doing something right, but this award particularly touched me because it was given by two friends, Tosca and Anna, with whom I used to work, eight years ago. The fact that we remain friends after so long is a tribute to the friendships that were formed way back then.
My daughter, Avery, came to the banquet with me, and we all sat together and had a good time. Avery also taught at that school, just after I left, and now teaches in the classroom next door to me. I know, I’m so lucky!
After dinner, the awards began. Each presenter gave a little presentation speech about the awardee as the award was given. The recipient could say a few words or not. The first guy talked and was ever so charming. After him the next few declined the offer of the microphone. That was until it was my turn. As I listened to the generous comments Tosca had to say about me, I decided that I couldn’t refuse the offer of the mic. I said something that I thought sounded okay. It was what I meant to say, but as I listened to the dozen or so who spoke after me, it seemed like everyone spoke so beautifully, so selflessly. The more they talked the more self-serving I felt. They all seemed to be talking about doing this job for the children, for the generation to come, for their colleagues, thanking everyone with whom they work, and the more they spoke, the more selfish I felt about my comments and the more I wanted a do-over.
Now, I know that I was the first of many, and that no one even remembers what I said, but I did, and I felt a little shabby, until today when I mentally revisited my comments. The first thing I said was that leaving the high school had been the hardest thing I have ever done, that leaving those friends and colleagues had left such a hole in my heart. I said that because I wanted them to know how much they mean to me, and how thankful I am to still have their friendship. That they still even thought to give me an award in public!!
The second part was that going to middle school had been really hard. Really hard, and that it has been worthwhile in the end, because I get to teach with my daughter. And that has been an incomparable gift to my life. And I wanted her to know that.
So in retrospect, I believe that what I said was perfect, because it wasn’t for all those other people in the room. It was to the beloved friends and family who sat before me that I spoke, and I said just what I wanted to say. To them. The others just got to listen in. And to Tosca and Anna and Avery, I hold you in my heart, always.