If you had asked me when I was a young girl what I wanted to be when I grew up, managing a charter school was not even a thought. I mean, I knew there were different types of schools (my children would be the first to tell you that their mom went to school in a house in the country), but still, all schools were considered pretty much the same.
Only they are not.
But anyway, working in/at/near a school never crossed my mind.
And then I had children and learned how important an education was and how much more important was they way they learned and how they were taught.
And so I ended up at this little charter school in the middle of the desert instead of a ‘normal’ school in the mountains of Colorado.
Every year we start out excited, looking forward to a fresh year of how we can impact our students and their families. We wonder which kindergartener will not know their first name because “Mommy calls me Papi.” We hand out tissues and reassure those parents that their student will be ok and we promise to let them know if they are not. We welcome back those we haven’t seen all summer, and reflect with sadness those we will miss as they have moved on.
And then, about mid year, we start winding down, trying desperately not to let the exhaustion set in, and just pushing thru to the end of the school year.
By April, the kids are done, the parents are done, and the staff? Well, some days it’s all we can do to hang in there.
But then, we begin to take a look at what we’ve accomplished this year. The mountains that the students have overcome, the bonds that have been formed, and the accomplishments that we were able to play a part in.
I love the excitement of the little ones as they shout out, “Miss Hope, Miss Hope” and share with me the birth of a new baby brother, or a game that they played in or something they ate for lunch…and well, sometimes the “ew” stuff that I probably didn’t need to know about. And then there’s the hugs, or a child who will walk up and grab my hand as we head down the hall together. Or those who stop me on the playground and ask me to play tag with them.
There’s the excitement of those who are heading over to the secondary building. They know I am there as well, so will ask questions about what they can expect, or will they still see me at lunch, or in the halls in the mornings or questions about the advisors that they haven’t gotten the chance to know yet.
And as they grow into teenagers, there’s a new type of relationship that forms; one where many won’t like that there are certain expectations that must be followed as they get older; and those that appreciate that there are certain expectations that must be followed because they have gotten older.
And finally, there are our seniors. Those who have made it all the way through and are now working on those scary, overwhelming-I-can’t-do-this senior projects. I love getting to be a part of the “yes-you-can, I’d love to help you” part of their last year with our school family.
Part of my job is planning all those fun events through the year, making them all fit together like pieces of a puzzle. And the end of the year is a final culmination of, well…everything. There’s talent shows and programs, and field days and dances.
There’s Kindergarten graduation, where those same parents who had the hardest time letting go at the beginning of the year are now beaming with pride as their students strut across the stage in the little caps. They once again wipe away the tears as they realize their children are not babies anymore, but students who will move forward each year, slowly letting go as they grow up.
And finally, there are our seniors.
I call them our seniors, because you see, we have put our everything into helping them to realize that despite it all, thru all of the hard work, sweat and tears, they can move mountains. They have come a long way from that first day of kindergarten when they first walked thru our doors, to the young adults who are ready to conquer the world as they depart thru them one final time as part of our student body.
We join the parents in beaming with pride. We join them in letting them go; in moving forward into this thing called adulthood. We look forward to their visits; to that time when they will come in and share about the new and exciting things going on in their lives.
We are exhausted and we look forward to the summer where the halls are quiet and peaceful. Thank goodness summer break has started.
This is why I love my job. Here, we can make a difference. We are part of a unique family, where we all matter. I never dreamed of working at a charter school.
Now I can’t imagine my life without it.