Tuesday, May 10, 2011

And On to the Next New Thing

(The final chapter)

The most important part of being a teacher is bringing her passion to the students. It is caring about their learning because you care about their learning. If this passion slips, it is time to leave for there is nothing sadder than an old curmudgeon still teaching because he doesn’t know what else to do. A teacher is someone who holds this love in her heart, who wants others to succeed because she cares about what they do, how they go, what they learn. I recently read an article in the Oregonian about a man who won the NAACP Award for excellence. He was a high school chop teacher and was nominated by one of his students. The student said he deserved this award, not only because he was a good teacher but because he went out of his way to help this student through personal problems and decisions, through the teacher’s guidance. As I read this, I knew he was a teacher at heart. And I also realized about myself that while I used to be this teacher, the energy it takes to follow-through was no longer in me. While the passion and love are in me, the energy to follow through was not as strong. While it is true that I have just this week worked on helping a student who was very ill get her classes together for when she can return to school in the fall. And it is true that I visited her in the hospital and will make her a meal for when she returns home after open-heart surgery. And it is true that I worked with a student, listening to her carefully, and prevented her from filing a grievance against one of my part-time faculty. I still have the drive. But the energy is for those new to the gig. My goal has always been to leave teaching while still at the top of my game. For many years I have watched colleagues stay at PCC too long because they didn’t know what else to do. I have watched some turn bitter against the college and some just walk through the motions. I am still near the top of my game; there is a bit of slippage there now and it is time to leave.

For nearly 30 years I have been privileged to stand in front of students and presented them with information, theory, new skills, shining up rusty skills, and given them a piece of myself. And for nearly 30 years I have continually been infused with energy from these people, learning from them in more depth than they can ever possibly know. And it is time to step down from the classroom. It is time to find something new.

January 7, 1980-June 20, 2011. What an incredible ride! And this journey continues, bringing along with it new adventures…

The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—Of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—And whether pigs have wings."

May 1, 2011

To the Dean:

It is with a mixture of emotions that I write to you with my resignation, effective as of June 20, 2011. I have always wanted to leave PCC while I was still at the top of my game; I have reached this moment in my life. I still love what I do, still love doing it, and realize it is time to do something else.

I believe that teaching is one of the most noble of professions. To be a teacher is to have the privilege of sharing ideas and knowledge to others. To help guide students, advise them, work with them and then see the spark of excitement start to ignite their imaginations and creativity. To be a teacher is to wear your passion, dedication, and love of others on your sleeve for all to see. When asked what I do for a living, I have always been able to say with pride, “I am a teacher.”

I have been fortunate to have been able to teach so many hundreds of students at Portland Community College for 25 years. PCC has been a wonderful place to work, from the diversity of students to being able to be with so many people who share my passion. I have had the opportunity to learn so much, gain many lifetime friends, and been able to experience such incredible events. All because I have had the good fortune to work for Portland Community College.

I want to thank the college for entrusting me with so much responsibility: to work with the community, to guide students, to make decisions that can affect so many people’s lives. And I want to thank you for giving me every opportunity for growth, from continuing as department chair for so many years to slipping into your shoes for a year. It has been an honor to work with you these many years and I value our friendship. I would appreciate the opportunity to teach part-time on occasion for I still have a desire to bend students’ minds. I would be open to this possibility in the future.

Again, thank you for your leadership and friendship. I hope both will continue for many years.

“But I don't want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can't help that,” said the Cat, “we're all mad here.”



Wilma NC said...

Yay!!!!! As you know, I retired from 32 years of nursing last December, and I have never looked back. I love not having to work, but sometimes I still feel like I'm supposed to be going somewhere, lol. You will enjoy retirement pollyanna. Everyone told me I would get bored, but I am not in the least. Congratulations for a wonderful career, and for doing such an important thing as educating our children. Oh, one thing I was supposed to do after retirement, but haven't YET, is learn to take naps. I'm gonna work on that one....

Gari said...