Doing what I love, and feeling guilty about it…

After 5.5 years in the classroom, I applied for a job within the school system that focuses on students in state custody who are also eligible for ex ed services. The plight of students in state custody, in the foster care system, is huge and depressing. They need and deserve smart, trained advocates and workers with time and resources, but our current political system doesn’t often allow for that. When I lived near Nashville, for seven years, I was a Court Appointed Special Advocate in juvenile court with children in the foster system, and the knowledge that too many children are lost in shuffle of a system that must exist regardless of its terrible flaws and failings has never left me. Here was the chance to work for a better life for some of these students. It was (and is) everything I could ever want to do as a teacher, and I had to apply.

I honestly didn’t believe I would get the job. I had the basic required licensures, experience, and recommendations, but just that: the basics. And I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the first choice. But then, five days before Christmas and after the students had already started Winter Break, I was offered the job and, in a heady daze of thrilled shock, I accepted. (And I can truly say that I love my job and feel beyond blessed and lucky to be working a worthwhile job that I love and enjoy, that stretches me and gives me the opportunity to learn new things every day, if not every hour.)

And then the guilt came crashing down. Hard. I was leaving my school. I was leaving my beloved students in my math class and in my advisory and in my inclusion classes. I was leaving the Beta Club. Evening school. I was leaving that the seniors trying so hard to graduate, the students with autism and learning disabilities and behavior plans and traumatic brain injury and absent parents and broken families and gang-slaughtered relatives and friends and everything else you would never wish on anyone and never want to experience yourself. All of these students who I promised to love and care for and teach… I only had the first week of the second semester to tell them I was going away. Most of them were kind and wished me well. They told me they would miss me and then they went on with their school day because hey, it’s just another teacher and there’s plenty of those. But one of them looked at me, a little bit exasperated and sad, and said what my heart was saying: “You’re leaving us.” I was. I did. I may never forgive myself…


About mizmonk

Thinking about it. I am not my job, but I don't do much other than work, so . . . wait, what was the question again??
This entry was posted in Education and all that, Is that love? and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Doing what I love, and feeling guilty about it…

  1. Dan says:

    You are still helping them. You may be helping them more, and more of them, in your new position. Regardless, you can’t help anyone if you work yourself to the bone. There is no shame in moving to a position that better enables you to help people, both in terms of the impact that you can make and in terms of maintaining your health.

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