22 05 2013

On May 17th I was awarded the highest honor a faculty member can receive at our school.  It was our Class Day Awards ceremony and I had my son a graduating senior in the audience, in addition, my husband, my parents, and my brother-in-law and sisters-in-law.  I was already feeling very nostalgic about my son and this graduating class.  It was a big day and I had a heavy but full heart.  I hung in the balance of near tears most of the week and this day was not helping.

It has been a full wonderful school year and I have accomplished so much in my new school, my new city, and my new art studio.  This graduating class was instrumental in following my lead and supporting the efforts to help Haiti and improve and heighten the visual arts in our school.  I am the only art teacher in the Upper School and I teach several different courses.  I love the variety and I cannot imagine limiting my options.  It has been hard work but I finally feel I am making some headway.  I work hard to raise the standards, expand my student’s experiences, and provide new exciting opportunities.  The opportunities vary in range from local art shows, local art competitions, charity events, and community based exhibitions.  My students excel in all venues and I am so proud of them.

On this day my son was awarded the Citizenship Award and I was filled with pride.  He sang in the choir a beautiful song and I began to cry as I heard his voice sing out to the audience.  I did regain my composure to award the Fine Arts Awards and my voice only quivered once when I announced some of my student’s names.  A few are seniors and they are moving on…I will miss their faces.  I listened again to the other awards and my son was awarded an AP Calc Award, super happy…. Wow!   I was thinking to myself, I will miss him in my daily life at school and at home so much.  But I know he is well prepared and excited about his future so I am very happy.

Then the Trustee stepped up to read the award and he begins to mention bits and pieces of the award winner’s accomplishments and whispers fill the area surrounding the students.    Then it hits me…he is talking about me.  I am unable to breathe and I say to myself breathe and live in this moment.  My colleagues closest to me begin to tear up and this is not helping me maintain my composure.  So I decide to keep breathing and look out to the audience.  I spy a parent and trustee of one of my senior students and she is crying through her smile.  I look to my students below and they are all smiling and several are crying too.  At this point I glance to my family in the crowd and I see my husband.  It takes my entire self-talk not to get sick or break out in tears.

I accomplished something that I was always hoping to achieve.  I did it!  I stood up and accepted my award and I did not cry.  I did have damp eyes but I stood proud.  I really believe I made a difference in my student’s lives and I was accepted into my new community.  One of the things that was said during the reading of the award was the mention that,” I was a transplant Arkansan from Milwaukee, Wisconsin”.  I was touched that I did break through, I broke out, and I made it!

The Jackson T. Stephens Faculty Award-2013 winner is Joy Schultz.  I will be able to go to Haiti now with the award money to see the BeLikeBrit Orphanage, something I really need to see.  I will be able to select another enriching professional development experience too.  I am just not sure what that will be.

Right now, I am satisfied and looking forward to spending the summer with my son before he leaves for college.   I will refresh and begin a new school year ready to take on the world!

Wow! What a wonderful way to end the school year.Image




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