Today I made a call to TRS (Teacher Retirement Service) to request my retirement package. This needs to be done so everything is in place for June. It’s a final item on my checklist as I make my exit. I teared up as I hung up the phone knowing it brought me one step closer to my finale. How many times have I walked the halls, use my fob to enter the building early, greeted students as they arrived? Staff members have asked if I’m excited, if I’m counting the days. (Not really.) My students know I’ll be leaving. They will too as they move on to the junior high.
Today my students asked why I was retiring. I told them about the possible changes that were being considered four years ago that would affect my pension. If they were approved it would have made changes that would impact me financially.One student ask “you could still teach at the junior high, couldn’t you?” No, when I signed it meant I couldn’t work full time in a public school in our state. I did tell them I was thinking about teaching in another state or a private school. Two boys with grandparents in Wisconsin said they could more there and I could teach them again. Another student said “you’re not that old.” Their comments made me smile.
Today I thought about the other reason I had signed four years ago, the one I wouldn’t share with my students. Back then we had a principal who wasn’t supportive, available or kid centered. She did what was easiest. She left early and came in late. She didn’t interact much with students. She was more concerned with dressing up than caring. Morale was down. I saw an opportunity to leave and signed. I wasn’t alone. Our school had six new teachers this year and will have four more next year. (Our school has 24 classroom teachers, so that’s significant.) She left at the end of July. We all breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Today I reflected on what I’ll miss. Friends, colleagues, parents, students, my room and my amazing aide. I’ll miss the routine and curriculum too. I’ll miss the special field trips and events. I’ll miss the familiarity of the school and community.
Today I also thought about what lies ahead. I just received notice that my Master teaching certificate for Wisconsin was approved. I have my resume, letters of recommendation, and other documents set. Now I need to find my next adventure. I know change is coming. While it’s bittersweet, I’ll be ready. The final curtain may fall here, but (hopefully) I’ll make my debut in a new place.
Today I realized that when april arrives there will only be nine more weeks before the year ends, my final year in fifth. I guess, like it or not, the countdown has begun.