I have been a teacher in the catholic school system for ten years. For eight years before that I was a preschool teacher in a child care center. I love my career choice. I love teaching. I love that everyday was new and different from the day before. I loved that the children had so much more to teach me than I could ever teach them. I loved that I woke up excited everyday, ready to get in the classroom and start the day. I loved planning lessons and creating units to present to the class each week. I loved going in an hour early to set up for the day and staying an hour late to prep for the next day. I loved every minute of everyday.
But then something changed. There were rumours and murmurs that schools would be closing. Each year schools close to the one where I taught closed their doors as a catholic school only to open in the fall as a public charter school or the building was sold. Students and their families were moving out of the city. Things began to change within the system. There was talk of "regional" schools, of shutting down almost all the schools and leaving only a few. Rumours swirled. As teachers we feared losing our jobs and the schools we loved.
I believe this fear and uncertainty permeated our beings. There was fear yes, but also anger. Anger over not being able to do anything to save the schools we loved. Then the biggest blow of all--the priest sex abuse scandal broke in our Archdiocese. Devastating to all.
I will not defend those priests who committed such acts or the way the higher ups within the diocese allowed it to continue. That is another blog post entirely. I will say that this news along with the prevailing air of changing catholic education within the system hurt my heart in such a way I can only say I was and still am just heartbroken.
I have not lost my faith in God. I still believe in being catholic but as far as teaching for the Archdiocese--I fear my time may be done. A year ago our diocese enabled a commission to do a study on the state of the diocese's catholic schools and make recommendations on how to make the system more viable moving into the future. As a teacher I knew this meant closures and moving towards the "regional school" model the Archdiocese had been speaking about for the past few years. And that is exactly what happened.
On Friday the commission released its report. The commission recommended the closure of 44 elementary schools and 5 high schools. This was a much larger size and scope than anyone thought would be recommended. As one higher up put it "We are not closing schools-we are closing buildings." Well, yes I guess that is correct on a technical point. But the reality is that my school is closing or rather "merging" with another and we as the staff will need to resign and then reapply for a position in the school. Also, teachers may only apply for a position at the school they are merging with. There are not enough positions for all the teachers to have a job. There are going to be alot of teachers out of a job come September and I am going to be one of them.
I am at a crossroads in my life. With everything that happened in the last few years within the archdiocese and at the school I was in...I don't have the all out vigor for teaching I once had. You know how when you do something you love it never feels like a job? Well my last year teaching felt like a job. Oh don't get me wrong--I still love the students and I love teaching. But the way things have been in the Archdiocese it no longer felt fun. It felt like every day was an uphill battle with administration. Everyday was a struggle, it seemed like everyday there was more bad news. There was definitely an air of tension over the whole Archdiocese.
And now it seems like there is no going back to the days when things seemed less like a battle. I don't want to teach in that way again, under fear of closure and feeling like I had to fight everyday for things like chalk or paper. It just exhausted me on such an emotional level. Last year I was just mentally, emotionally, and physically drained from the whole black cloud hovering over not just my school but the whole system.
It was one of the reasons I opted for a year long leave of absence for my maternity leave with my Sweet Pea. I wanted to rest and rediscover my passion for teaching while getting to spend as much time as possible with my first baby. But now with the sweeping closures I am out of a job. And honestly, I am not quite sure how I feel about that situation.
Is this God's way of telling me it is time to look in a new direction? I have other passions I may like to pursue. But I don't know what to do or where to begin at this point. It is very upsetting to me. I feel very much like I am directionless and I dislike that feeling very much.
There is alot of fear right now. Change is always scary but it is inevitable. I need to focus on the positive and embrace the journey. Follow my heart and go where God leads me. It is all I can do right now.