Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sparks Fly

New Year's Eve

There was just enough snow for a bonfire on New Year's Eve.  It was cold and clear and quiet until someone lit fireworks on the lower road. We stood in the garden and celebrated the end of a decade. We burned pine logs and branches. We threw on rotten rafters from the shed and hunks of plywood ceiling. The fire burned brightly and snapped in the cold.

This year's ritual holds more weight for me.  2011 is a change year, a big marker, a time to leave one stage of life and enter another.  In June, I'll retire from my profession as an education testing specialist, work that has engaged me fully for all my adult life.  Working in schools with kids, teachers, parents and administrators hasn't been a "job"; it's been Who I Am, a definition of me down to the bones.

So, I've been preparing for this big transition and in the process, I'm stirring up all kinds of thoughts, memories, regrets, disappointments, anger and proud moments -- all the stuff of life.

For the bonfire, I hauled three boxes of files out of locked storage and fed them one by one to the flames.  There was nothing easy or light-hearted about this.  We read the names aloud and watched bits of educational history curl and burn and fly skyward in flurries of sparks.

There were notes from parents who couldn't make meetings, old pink telephone messages, a few complaints, and one or two 'thank you' notes.   This hoard of yellowing paper -- WISC's and diagnostic reading tests, VMIs and first grade screenings -- has no meaning now.  Yet I saved old files and reports.  I told myself, I might use them. Research? 
Study?  A Reminder of the glory days?

Whatever the wish or deception, it fades.  The important work was done years ago, face-to-face, when we were young and in a very different world and time.

There's a homily that says, the student always leaves the teacher. Well, this teacher is leaving, too.  The sparks are flying -- and I have other things to do.


chris said...

as you think back on your career, know that you were one of the beacons of light in the lives of countless children. you fixed kids. you helped families. you made a difference. and you had great toys.

gretchen said...

Thanks! And, I had great friends and working compadres.

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