This summer. This summer brought with it an unexpected twist. A turning upside down of worlds. A storm, a hurricane, a tsunami, a disaster. Of course, it wasn't all a surprise. We knew positions were cut. We knew we would be serving 60 students more with 6 less bodies. We knew the contract said Reduction in Force would happen according to seniority. We knew... we knew... we knew.
but we didn't know. We never saw this coming. We never knew we could be reduced to just a piece of paper, to just a state assigned license. Just a number being moved about in a jumble puzzle of budget cuts, contract language, and seniority.
It's been about four weeks since I first got the call. Since the news started coming in. The news that my job had changed. That good people were out of jobs. That wonderful people- friends- had been transferred to schools unknown. That I would be left at a school that would have almost 50% new staff (all transfers in). That our art teacher would be teaching 4th grade, that our new 7th grade math teacher came from high school social studies. That our science teacher was bumped to humanities. That our new 8th grade humanities teacher used to teach 1st grade. That. That. That.... the list just keeps going.
Yes, it's been about four weeks. I can only really describe it by comparing it to the way I've observed communities from afar as they go through a large scale natural disaster. That feels almost arrogant, writing that. Almost audacious to compare work turmoil to life changing and destroying events. But that's how it feels. The initial shock. The disbelief. The denial. The paralysis. Frozen in disbelief as the bad news keeps rolling in. How can it get worse? Then it does. People tried to connect- try to find others still standing, still in tact. What pieces (if any) are left of what we knew?
For me I found myself flooded with anger and guilt and frustration. The world was spinning and I had nothing left to hold on to. I looked around at the school I have known and loved for so long and it felt barley recognizable. The careful structures were decimated. The expertise of the people I worked with had been scattered to the four winds- washed away like sand castles in the tide. With that realization everything turned to deep deep hopelessness. I wanted to give up. Pack my bags and leave town. Turn away from it all because it hurt too much to remember what we had. Because we had it good. So many tears.
True hopelessness eats a person from the inside. It's exhausting and scary.
So, I have to let that hopelessness go. I have to release it and begin rebuilding. There has to be something to believe in still. A chance we can still make this work. That we can still build a better school for students, even having less that we ever thought possible. Because I can't be sad any more. Even Mt. St. Helen's regrew the forests after the eruption. In that barren wasteland life took hold and bloomed again.
And so tomorrow it begins.