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Ready or Not: Time Marches On

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As a teacher, I’m accustomed to filling out a lot of forms. At my elementary school, for example, each staff member is required to complete a personal data/emergency contact sheet at the beginning of the year.  This form always has a space for birth month and year, but for some reason, this year’s form also asked us to include the year.  No problem; we all dutifully wrote it down.

Imagine my shock when I discovered that our full birth dates were included (along with the usual names/addresses/phone numbers) on the annual printout that landed in our staff mailboxes.  A quick glance confirmed, to my horror, that I am the oldest person in the entire building!

I am older than the principal, the assistant principal, and all of the teachers.  I am older than the custodial staff, our cafeteria workers, and the bus drivers.  I’m probably older than the gravel parking lot out back.

How could this be??  Although I remember purple ditto sheets, typewriters instead of computers, filmstrip projectors, record players, and non-electronic blackboards with actual chalk, it seems like yesterday when I taught my first class wearing bell-bottoms and my ’70s-style long hair.

I looked very young then, about sixteen. In fact, the first words I ever heard from a parent—an incredulous dad—were: “You can’t be the kindergarten teacher.  You look like you should be in kindergarten!” Sigh. At the time, I wished I looked a lot older.

In that first class was a little girl who grew up to be the youngest school superintendent in the history of our state.  I personally taught her all she knows (not really!)  It has been my pleasure to have kept up with her and her family all of these years.  I’m so proud of my former student that I could burst, even though the fact that I taught a superintendent must surely date me beyond recognition.

We have a brand-new music teacher at our school.  She is my daughter’s age and is due to be married in the spring, just like my Melody.  I’m old enough to be her mother, as well as the mother of quite a few other colleagues.  The music teacher and I have talked together about wedding plans, and I enjoyed serving as her pianist for our school’s Christmas program.

The funny thing is, I don’t feel like I’m older than she is, and I don’t think of her as “young”.  She is an excellent and highly capable teacher; I respect her for her many talents and know how much her students are learning.  Her age isn’t a factor to me at all.

Hmmmm . . . if that’s how I regard my new friend, perhaps my co-workers don’t notice my age, either.  Maybe age hasn’t got anything to do with effectiveness.  As for me, I’m certainly not ready to be put out to pasture, and I have no intention of retiring.  With one child in college and another in graduate school, retiring hasn’t been a viable option, and besides, I love my job with all of my heart and all of my soul.

Teaching is my calling, my passion, and my reason for being.  As long as I’m making a difference in a child’s life and can ignite my students’ love of learning, I’ll stay right where I am!

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