Sunday, March 11, 2018

Little School, Big Hearts

The school where I started my career is no longer a school.  It's now a beautiful church.  Recently the church decided to have a reunion of former Merriam Grade School staff, students, and families, and it was such an amazing experience.  I didn't get to talk to everyone I wanted to or get to thank everyone I would have liked to, so I thought I'd do it here today.  If I gave a speech at the reunion, this is how it would have gone:

When I started teaching at Merriam Grade School I was fresh out of college.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I dreamed of being a teacher my entire life, but my dream was coming true at this little country school with people I didn't know.  I grew up in Fairfield, but I was a "city girl."  I went to school at North Side and Center Street, and I knew nothing about Merriam.  

My first week at Merriam was so scary.  I was a stranger walking in and taking over for the great Mary Queener.  She was one of the best teachers to ever grace the doorstep of that place, and I walked through the doors with no experience.  I also walked through the doors pregnant with my daughter who was due in September.  I was sure they were thinking: "Who starts a teaching job knowing she is going to have to take off immediately for maternity leave?"  But you know what?  They weren't.  

Every single person at Merriam opened their doors and their hearts to me the very first day.  They were all available morning and night to help me get settled and help me with all my first year teacher problems.  I looked up to every single one of the teachers there, and they all took care of me like I was their own.  The entire staff was so good to me.  Every single person helped me when I needed it.   I knew I was with family when they had a surprise baby shower for me the first month of knowing me.  They welcomed me into the Merriam family and I still feel like a part of the family to this day.  

One of the hardest things I ever had to do was leave Merriam Grade School.  Teaching reading and English was my ultimate dream.  I got the opportunity to do that if I took a job at Center Street.  My kids were also in the Fairfield district (this was before you could take your kids to the district you work in).  Also my paycheck was going to almost double.  It was just a good move for me.  But let me tell you making the call to my partner in crime, Trina, was like a death in my family.  I couldn't even say a proper goodbye to the rest of the Merriam group because it was too hard.  

Merriam eventually consolidated with Fairfield so most my other coworkers eventually joined me.  It was so sad to see the school close.  It was the end of an era.  But meeting up with former students and coworkers at the reunion was so great.  It was truly a family reunion.  I hope we can do it again someday.

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