Here we go.
It's Thursday again.
Time to give thanks.
Last week it occurred to me that, for the first time in my 31 years of living, I'm not starting a new school year this fall.
And while I'm still over the moon about what I get to do with my time these days, I found myself wishing a little bit that I was back at the school I worked at last year, preparing my classroom and getting ready to meet a whole new crop of students.
Then I drove by the school on my way to yoga in the middle of the day and didn't feel sad anymore.
What I started to feel was thankful for the years of learning and growing that American schools gave me. I'm thankful for the way I was cared for by teachers and school nurses and lunch ladies throughout my childhood. I'm thankful for the way I was motivated as an adolescent. I'm thankful for the ways I was challenged as a college student.
I am thankful for the kindergarten teacher who helped me clean the blood and gravel off my face when I tripped and fell face-first into the blacktop because I had both hands in the pockets of my jumper.
I am thankful for Mrs. McAfoos, my 4th grade teacher, for helping me devise a way to find time and space for myself at home when I was stuck sharing a bedroom with both my sisters.
I am thankful for the opportunity to be a peer counselor in middle school and high school. I learned more about myself and resolving conflict and active listening as a teenager than some people learn in their whole lives.
I am thankful for the teachers I had in high school (Mrs. Bartholomew, Dr. Degi, Mr. Browne) who shot me straight and didn't let me charm my way through things. They forced me to engage and to learn and I'm glad they did.
I am thankful for the opportunity to attend and work for CU-Boulder. I had more fun and life-changing experiences there than I ever anticipated. That's also where I met Latifah. Who eventually introduced me to Dann. Who I married.
I am thankful for the opportunity to study with a group of people who also knew they wanted to be teachers. My graduate program was a learning experience unlike any I had ever known and it was a joy to be in class with people who were older and wiser than me, but who shared my desire to contribute to the profession and help kids.
I am thankful for the teaching jobs I've had over the course of the last seven years. The things I've learned about myself through those experiences could fill volumes. How to speak to teenagers, how NOT to speak to teenagers...let's just say that if I ever do become a parent, I will rely heavily on the things I learned in my classroom to keep the peace.
Don't get me wrong, you know I take issue with a number of things going on in our nation's schools. They're not perfect and they're not our savior.
They're doing a lot of things right and I believe they're mostly doing everything as well as they can. And I'm thankful for what that has meant for me, in my life.
So here's to schools. For all the things they've done right and the possibilities for their future.
Now go find a classroom that needs a volunteer.