Excited Unprepared Grieving

This is the 6th summer break that I have had since beginning my teaching career and I have to say that it has been the most vexing one yet. Each year I (like many of you and my colleagues) plan on rewriting everything; making numerous sweeping changes to my curricula that reflect my growth over the past year. When it comes down to it I want my instruction to reflect my growth as a professional and summer is the time to implement those changes. Yet every year I find myself staring down the barrel of August with very little to show for all of my big far-reaching plans. This year is no different except that it’s totally different. It’s different for diverse reasons ranging from professional to personal and that’s what I’d like to share with you all today.

There is a large amount of anticipation that I have for this upcoming year much of it because I have been approved to teach a dual-credit US History course through Indiana University. This is a great chance for me to directly prepare my students for college right here in Richmond. They will be introduced to much of what I love about college-level history - the element of discovery. College level history classes have a greater amount of detective-like clue gathering that is afforded through the expectation that students examine and interpret documents, pictures, paintings, pretty much all things from the past as a means to discern what was really happening. Histiography can play a larger role in the course and that allows for more student engagement, which is what we’re all about! I really cannot wait to open the world of the past and questions about the past to these budding historians.

However this anticipation is tempered by a fairly large amount of trepidation. The last week of the 2017-18 school year will stay with me forever. On Memorial Day our building was dealt a heavy blow with the drowning death of a Freshman and the murder of graduating senior that was supposed to be in my classroom the following day. This dual tragedy hit our students and staff extremely hard for numerous and obvious reasons. At the point at which I was starting to understand the pain that these events meant to me and my community I received the news that my long-time colleague, friend, and hall-mate had passed quietly in his sleep. I honestly have no idea the extent to which I have dealt with this hurt and grief and I fear for the impact that it will have on my students. I want, as I always have, to be their champion, their historian, their Mr. Price but I do not know to what extent I will be able to perform those roles. Thankfully I have been blessed with group of friends and coworkers, from staff to administration, which have been present and kind at every turn. It is in their strength and companionship that I rest my fears and hopes and with those amazing humans I know that I will make it through this year.

Thus I end this summer in much the same manner that I have ended many before it; woefully unprepared and cripplingly anxious about the job I will do. This year however I have a much larger support system than before and I am determined to force myself to swallow pride and accept their help.

Thank you to the following marvelously strong and loving people that have, and continue to have, a lasting positive impact on my life and without whom my grief would be too much to endure:

 

Hannah Abrams: an unfortunate side-effect of having my colleagues as close friends is that my partner has had to endure much of this pain alongside me. She has done so flawlessly and has helped me at every turn while dealing with her own grief simultaneously.

The EduTry Guys – Jason Clark, Bill Langley, Jay Rodriguez, Brain Bennett, Jeremy Hill: obviously the bond that I have with these brilliant creatures goes beyond that of collegiality and has been a godsend in the form of their friendship. I only hope that I can do for them as they have for me.

Rae Woolpy and my Administrators: from soldiering on during this time and keeping a community of 1400 students and staff together to preparing a commencement ceremony that was a celebration of life as much as graduates this team has done far more than their fair share of hurting yet has continued to lead with grace. I aspire to be more like all of you.

Joel Schlabach: my neighbor and my fellow hipster in Casey and the Hipsters will more than surely be my pillar to lean on when the going gets tough this year. Coach P’s Mile has to maintain a certain gravitas worthy of Casey and I have no doubt that Joel will help me in that endeavor.

Matt Haynes: I can’t express how much I enjoy your company and laughter! Our trip to Indy and our Oasis sing along holds a special place on my road to understanding, thank you!

Although this is by no means an exhaustive list I felt the need to point out a few of the many people that have helped me in such a difficult time. Thank you all so much and I look forward to making 2018-19 amazing with you all.