Sixteen years ago, as a high school senior, I wanted to be an artist.
My dad told me that I should probably choose a real career.
Fifteen years ago, as a college freshman, I planned to combine my art skills and my interest in business into a career in marketing.
Everyone said I'd be successful.
Fourteen years ago, as a college sophomore, I fell in love with a group of third graders and decided to become a teacher.
My mama asked what had taken me so long.
Thirteen years ago, as a college junior, I found that elementary students were more than my patience could handle and I decided to teach high school instead.
People thought I might be crazy.
Twelve years ago, as a college senior, I found inspiration from a regular group of youth-center-drop-in kids and set my sights on teaching kids who needed me the most.
People said I reminded them of "the chick from Dangerous Minds."
Ten years ago, as a first year teacher, I worked harder than I ever thought I could with less than I ever thought I'd have. Less time, less resources, less guidance, less places for students to sit than my enrollment required. They told me that they would make me cry; I did not. I thought I'd never be able to stay sane with more than a few teenage girls in one room.
People asked me if I was scared. I wasn't.
Eight years ago, as a third year teacher, I changed schools. Burnt out and losing steam, I was encouraged to give teaching a try in a new district. The students booed me during an assembly. I got cussed out for the first time in my teaching career. One of the first students I was able to make a connection with died of a drug overdose.
People said, "kids these days."
Yesterday, as a tenured teacher, I was told that my position was being eliminated and that I was being transferred out of the small, imperfect, often frustrating program where I have spent the last eight years.
My co-workers said, "Laura, we're sorry. We'll miss you."
Tomorrow, I will tell my favorite group of homeroom students, 10 girls who I have grown to be so proud of, that our homeroom will be dissolved next year. That I will not be their advisor or their teacher. That I will not be there to greet them every morning or call them when they are absent or nag them about their grades and attendance. That they no longer have to fear my English 3-B class.
I will tell them that I've never cried in front of a class before.
I know that my students will land on their feet, as will I. We will move on and it won't be so painful as the days go on. Doors will open for all of us that may not have otherwise. They will form new connections with the teachers that remain. But today, today is just kinda hard.