In two days, Southwood Middle School, the place that brought me back into public education and served as a source of constancy for me over the past nine years will be closing its doors forever. The building will be renovated and another faculty will come in and open a new school there, but those of us who taught at Southwood will be moving to an entirely new building to begin an entirely new school. My life has changed so profoundly over the past nine years, that I’ve really felt the need for some type of reflection. I think this is about as good an outlet as any.
When I started as the band and strings director in the fall of 2002, I was still pretty green. Even though I’d had a year and a half of teaching experience prior and a year of non-teaching work experience since then, two and half years out of undergraduate school, I hadn’t actually done the job that I thought I was preparing for. I had no idea what I was in for over the next nine years of my life.
In the time since then, I have had three beautiful, healthy children. My wife joined the National Guard. I finished my masters degree in music education – one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I began pursuing a PhD in music education and had to learn that one could not have a family, a full time job, and pursue a doctoral degree and succeed at all three. I was actually doing quite well in graduate school – making better grades than I ever did in undergraduate. I found myself opening my mind to new ideas and expanding my horizons . . . but to what end? Over time, I realized that for me, the career goals I had set were just not consistent with my desire to be a part of my family and the financial realities of the economic times in which we currently live. Slowly, I began to change directions in many areas of my life.
Fast forward to present day and I now find myself not teaching music at all and instead teaching middle school technology courses – how to use computers intelligently and effectively. Next year, I’ll even be teaching a web design and intro to programming course. It should be interesting, to say the least.
So what has changed?
I’m a father of 3.
I’m a seasoned educator.
I’m a technology educator, not a music educator.
I’m a far more open minded person than I used to be.
I’m no longer invincible. I realize that I never was, but it was really cool believing it while it lasted.
When we close Southwood in just a day and a half, a part of me will always stay with it. My life has changed so drastically during my tenure there, that I think part of me will always identify with it. As for the rest of my life, I hope I can be as optimistic about my own life as what will be following Southwood. We’ll be moving to Robert Anderson Middle School – a brand new school in a brand new building with endless possibilities.
I can only wonder what will be on my mind as I look back over my life when the next nine years has passed. What possibilities now lie ahead?