A few weeks ago as I stepped outside my backyard, I froze in the open doorway and stared in amazement at the first blossoms ever on the Lady Banks Rose I planted seven years ago. I have conscientiously taken care of this rose for seven years and it finally bloomed. I had given up hope.
As I stared at the few yellow blooms, I thought how symbolic these blooms were in many aspects of my life. This particular rose meant much to me as I had a massive Lady Banks Rose at the small farm where my husband and I raised our children in Leeds, Alabama. When I was forced to sell our farm due to my husband’s sudden death, I brought very few items from our home to where I live now. I did bring the porch swing with the carved hearts my husband bought for me on an impulse when we were visiting a small Alabama town years ago. I planted my Lady Banks Rose by this swing at my new home.
My first thought was perhaps these bright yellow blossoms were a sign that I will not always live with this overwhelming burden of grief that has been my constant companion for so long. Maybe I will find a new life for myself and it will not always be an effort to go through the motions of living.
I thought of my professional career as a teacher. My journey the past two years at Brighton School has left me exhausted and feeling more like a novice teacher than a veteran of 24 years. I will say that I am finally feeling like I have some understanding of what it is like to work in a school that has been in multiple years of school improvement. This has been a very unfamiliar world to me, and I was not prepared for this work. I so underestimated the needs of Brighton. In spite of this, I now have the sense of what it is going to take to make real progress and how this can be accomplished.
I also looked at these blooms and smiled as I thought about the title of this blog – "Brighton's Hope." Brighton has come a long way in the past two years. I know there is a lot still to be done, but I believe we have a solid plan now that will guide us and help our school to become the place the Brighton children deserve. Brighton is blooming!
In my last blog, I wrote about my moving to the Middle School building next year. I cannot deny the fear this move instills in me. This is a tough building. Nevertheless, I am compelled to be in this building as much as possible next year. I will miss the hugs I get every day from our younger students and their calling out to me,”Mrs. Doctor Rogers.” I will also miss the teachers with whom I have developed friendships and have established good working relations. I have promised to visit them daily next year.
Working at Brighton has been the most challenging, but the most exciting experience of my professional career. It has made me stronger in my beliefs about what all children deserve, challenged all of my previous knowledge, and motivated me to keep on going. I want to be at Brighton when it comes into full bloom. That will be the day when every class is a place where every child has consistent, quality instruction that offers meaningful learning experiences. I know now my dream for Brighton can become a reality.
This is my last blog of this year. I do not know if I will continue to share this story in the year to come. I think many may be tired of my story. I hope in some way I have offered some insight into the challenges faced in a hard to staff school.
I appreciate Barnett Berry from the Center for Teaching Quality for giving me this opportunity to write my story. And a big thanks to John Norton, moderator of the Teacher Leaders Network, who edited my entries and was a constant source of encouragement. I also would like to thank a teacher whom I met online through my blog. Joe Bellacero has consistently commented on my entries, sharing his many years of experience teaching in a high poverty school. I would also like to share the link to Joe’s blog. You will want to read his last days at school before retirement. It is a beautifully written journal of a teacher's heart.
Finally, thanks to those of you who have sent kind words of encouragement and comments. I have found a very real support group in the virtual community of teachers. I hope you find joy in your journey — and new blooms on your roses.