Sitting down in an attempt to write this post feels like reading the last page of a great book. You know, the feeling when the left side of the book starts to weigh heavy in your hands as the pages struggle to stay open. You must decide to either bend the spine or hold tightly as you savor the final words. Those moments when you know the story you invested your energy and time into begins to end.
On Friday, my time at the school I spent ten years as a teacher at came to an end. Despite knowing all school year I would move on to another school in the district next fall, it did not start to hit me until the last day with my class. Hearing their laughter and giggles as they made books and spontaneously shared their favorite parts of second grade together forced me to realize, next year I will not see them daily in the hallways or after school. I will not hear their giggles or visit their new classroom.
Leaving Skelly is bittersweet, something I never thought I would say.
At times this place felt like my Nineveh or marching around the wilderness. I longed for an adventure. I wanted nothing more than to move away in a big grand gesture of wanderlust, not live adjacent to the place I grew I up. I longed to run away and do anything else. Every time I tried to leave, God quietly and often clearly guided me right back to Skelly. And for that I could not be more grateful.
Other times Skelly seemed perfect, filled with joy and excitement. There were people and teams that meshed and clicked. At times each day felt like my team and I truly made an impact. We saw growth, changes and had momentum moving us towards greatness. We were the teachers you scroll through on Instagram. I worked with people who became dear friends.
These two feelings often existed simultaneously. There were times of beauty amidst the muck. Some weeks swung back and forth between the two. I will never regret the time I dedicated to this school and community, ever.
Skelly is the place that made me the teacher I am today. I am a better person because of the children, families and colleagues I shared life with these past ten years. The Skelly community welcomed me with open arms. When I was wrong or blind to my own faults, this community pushed and challenged me to grow. The children and families I got to work with widened my view of the world. I am not only the teacher I am today because of Skelly, I am the person I am today because of this community.
In my time here I learned many lessons. Skelly taught me how to function as a teacher doing things like making copies, planning and executing field trips, unjamming the copier, how to communicate with families, how to unpack a standard, making more copies, how to set up a classroom, unjamming the copier again ect. Here I learned about the importance of classroom management, teamwork, and finding joy in the hard times. I learned I am stronger than I realize. Skelly taught me how to start to truly love others unconditionally, no matter what.
I can walk the halls of Skelly and each place seems to hold a precious moment or memory. There’s the plot of land with a sidewalk that leads to where the trailer that held my first classroom once stood. Or the door I remember finding a student who ran away hiding behind. The office where I will always hear Erika’s booming laughter echoing out of. The gym where Mr. Field’s would always stand and chat with me. The tree my class sat under for dismissal. Or the playground where I can picture ten years of children playing the same cops and robbers game every single year. I still have no idea how they all seemed to replicate the same game every single year.
Thursday night I walked the empty hallways and I smiled. I replayed so many moments of defeat and so many moments of joy. The halls and empty classrooms and spaces seemed to come alive as they reverberated with memories and moments. The rush of emotion flooded over me. This chapter in my story, the chapter I tried to force to end, this chapter was indeed closing.
I can’t tell you how often, especially early on in my time at Skelly, I longed and prayed to not be there. I had a better plan than God, and frankly it just felt like He wasn’t listening. But looking back, I would not have experienced one of the hardest, sweetest, bravest, most beautiful chapters of my story without this place. God wrote a story with these ten year better than I ever could have written in my wildest dreams.
Being obedient to the Lord does not always come with big flashing lights or a stomach full of excited butterflies. Sometimes obedience looks like a deep sigh and an, “Okay God.” But let me tell you, ten years of obedience, ten years of showing up, ten years of (mostly) trusting the Lord through my time at Skelly – these ten years turned out to be so precious. These ten years are filled with markers of God’s unfailing, unending, unconditional, mighty great love. These ten years serve as a marker of God’s faithfulness. These ten years alone could build towers with countless ebenezer stones of God’s faithfulness that would overflow out of the enormous building I drove to each day.
If you find yourself in a situation where God is asking you to be obedient, don’t hesitate. Scream and cry, stomp your feet for a minute if you must, ask Him one more time if He’s really sure. Deep sigh if you need to do so. And then, do what God asks of you. Trust His plan. I promise you, He is who He says He is. He is going to show up in mighty mighty ways as you trust Him. If you don’t believe me, just ask. I can share with you countless ways He has proven Himself to me.
To the many many many coworkers, children, families, visitors, and community members who I had the privilege and honor of serving with, working for, learning from, interacting with, or seeing each day, thank you. Thank you for all that you do and will continue to do for such an invaluable community of people . Thank you for pushing me, loving me, showing me who you knew I could be, trusting me with your most precious asset, forgiving me when I was wrong, learning with me, and allowing me to grow and change in the past ten years. I will miss and cherish each and every one of you. Though this chapter of my book comes to an end, I will hold it close to my heart. You have deeply impacted my life in more ways than you will ever know.
I cannot wait to hear about the amazing work that will undoubtedly continue to come from the Skelly community. I know without hesitation the Skelly community will continue to impact Tulsa and beyond. Remember, you are leaders for good who will change the world.