I’ve been hearing this from people for a few months now: “it’s the end of an era”. I’ve worked at this school for 9 years. I started as a paraprofessional in the k-2 SDC. After spring break of that year, I was asked to take over the 3-5 SDC as the teacher. I built a really great program for students with emotional disturbance. We changed lives. But this work has an expiration date. It’s hard, hard work. I loved it while I loved it, but once the trauma started to seep into my skin, I knew I had to leave. This kind of trauma changes you. It’s not just being attacked by students or being called names. It’s the darkness that some of theses students have. Yes, the extreme behaviors make an impact on you from day to day, but over time, it just gets harder and harder to cope with their hardships.
So last week I closed the door to my classroom for the last time, and it absolutely is the end of an era. I am really sad to go. I have made some great friends at this school. I have learned so much during my time here. And in a way, I used this job as a way to cope with the death of my mother. I came to the Bay Area almost 12 years ago. I had been living in Turkey teaching English when I got the call we all dread when we’re living abroad: “Mom is on life support, please come home”. She pulled through and survived for another year. I moved in with her and took care of her during this time. I worked 2 jobs to support us, and began to consider what types of careers I could pursue in San Francisco. Teaching seemed to be the obvious choice. So I began to apply to credentialing programs in the area.
After my mother died, I was devastated. I was overwhelmed. Luckily my brother and his new wife lived near by and they were really supportive. They gave me their apartment to live in (it was so hard to find a place to live with a dog). My sister in law gave me her car. But the emotions I was feeling tended to be too strong. I looked for ways to stuff them down. I ate. I drank. I got a very intense job. It was the job that really helped keep my emotions at bay. Teaching kids with emotional disturbance is so extremely intense. It is so easy to get completely immersed in it…especially if you’re trying to escape some pain in your own life. And that’s exactly what I did and that’s exactly why was so damn good at it. And I was. I really was so damn good at this. But once I realized that I needed to leave this job, that this job was starting to chip away at me, I knew I had to take another look at my mother and who she was and how she died. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the past year. And now I find myself to be very ready to move on.
So you see, it’s not just any old teaching job that I’m leaving. There was so much wrapped up in this job. My mother is in there. My pride is in there. For a long time, my personal identity was in there. I know I’ll find that breaking away from this job was really good for me. Moving abroad again to live as an expat will also prove to be really good for me. But oh boy is it hard to say good bye to all this.