Friday, May 24, 2013


Today is the conclusion of my first year as a school counselor.  Well, unless you count those two pesky work days next week ; )  I feel like I could write a novel about all the experiences I've had in this short amount of time.  I took this job while still living in another town- nearly 2 hours away, having not sold my house there, and with my husband still employed by our old house.  I had no idea what was going to happen, but sometimes you have to go out on a limb because that is where the fruit is. 

I joined the faculty of Liberty Elementary, moving to lower grades than I taught, serving in a completely different position, not knowing a soul who worked there and being embarrassed by how 'up in the air' my whole life was at that point.  After four years in the same place, knowing exactly what to expect and what was expected of me- I experienced baptism by fire in nearly every area of this move. I am grateful that I landed in a supportive place.

August, September, and October were almost a blur as I began to figure out exactly what I did (what it means to be a school counselor and what my job really was).  I learned a great deal in college, but we all know- you can talk about swimming all day long, but you don't know how until you're thrown in the water.  I got to know my kids and learned that big or little, they really have similar needs.  My heart swelled with appreciation of children where they begin their journeys and how they grow along the way.  Meanwhile, I was still struggling to get my old house sold and my family with me.  I was fearful that my leap of faith failed.  I hated trying to explain the mess of my life to well-meaning colleagues, but was blessed to find they were not judgmental and were, in fact, completely supportive.  Some of them even shared similar stories of stressful moves and sacrifice.  In those moments, I could forgive myself a little.

In November, I experienced my first feelings of success as a school counselor.  I organized a can food drive with my club, the Kindness and Compassion Club.  We exceeded our goal and effectively doubled what I originally estimated.  The most important accomplishment of November, however, was finally going under contract on our old house.  There was a lot of back and forth- trying to spend time together as a family, trying to pack, and trying to find a new home.  We placed an offer on one home, only to find out that someone beat us to the punch just minutes before.  While that home was beautiful, I am grateful we were steered away from it.  It was at the top of our price range, not where we'd originally planned to look, and there were no hardwood floors (carpet+kid+dog+live+trying to keep a clean home= set up for failure).  Additionally, we were blindsided with a heavy expense- the furnace in the house we were selling was in need of repair and so old that replacement parts did not even exist anymore.  I held my breath and fought my urge to kick, scream, and cry as we forked $2k dollars of our already reduced profits over to the buyers of the house, who were not exactly the most amenable people.  We returned, a little bruised, but not defeated, to a house we'd considered previously.  There were things I liked about it, but it was taking some convincing.  I just wasn't completely sure.  The day we were going to make an offer, my realtor told me she just wanted me to see this one house she found.  I saw the pictures.  There were things I really liked about the house, but it looked like a total remodel, which I wasn't sure I wanted.  Humoring her, but thinking we would probably still make an offer on the last house, I went.  While I saw that many updates were needed, it had so many bonuses (plantation shutters and a pantry to die for, to name a few!) and the price was low enough that could afford to remodel.  The house was in great physical condition, so it was all cosmetic.  Michael said, "it's go time", we made the offer, and in a whirl, we were under contract.  Boom: under contract as sellers and under contract on the new house.  I'd love to say this was without event, but like I said, the buyers of our old house were none too kind and threatened to back out about a week before closing.  After an incredibly stressful pack and go, we were here.  Tulsa- I never thought I'd get to come home and I was home.

Usher in December, with a closing date on the new house just 11 days before Christmas, I was overwhelmed!  We got busy right away and had quite a bit pulled together and liveable before Christmas.  I'm not saying pretty and nice- I'm saying liveable- and for the first time, I woke up in the mornings in my own home and began to feel like the pieces could come together.  My little wild child started preschool at Immanuel Lutheran, which is adjacent to the neighborhood where I grew up.  I felt comforted and joyful about this small notion. 

In January, all that was missing was getting Michael here, but I feel we did a pretty good job of keeping things together in the meantime.  Claire was convinced she was in kindergarten for a considerable part of the month.  "Mom, kindergarten is what they call school in Tulsa, Okmahoma!" (not a typo, just how Claire says Oklahoma)  January through March were also a bit of a blur.  By April, the monster of state testing emerged.  I'd convinced myself that I was not going to allow testing to bog me down as much as some stories I'd heard.  I was going to smile my way through it- and I did, if by smile- I meant 'cry'.  Okay, I guess I handled myself well.  However, this is what it is like:  imagine a grimy pool at a condemned house and someone handing you a toothbrush to clean it.  Meanwhile, they are standing over your shoulder saying you missed a spot, you weren't doing it they way they wanted, and you only had a certain amount of time to get the entire pool spotless- no room for mistake.  Then, you wonder why you're bothering- the house is condemned anyway.  Yes, my whole life outside of it felt totally neglected.  One insane night, my boss and I were stuck in my office until after 10 p.m.  How amazing is it that my boss stayed right there with me- the entire time.  I will say, we talked all night and it was actually an enjoyable opportunity to get to know one another.  We just would have enjoyed it more if it wasn't followed by being back at work by 7:30 the next morning!

By May, I encountered the end of year drag.  Any educator can tell you, the last couple of weeks of school feel longer than the entire year up to that point.  As a counselor and as a teacher, I have officially gone on autopilot in May. 

What I truly learned is that a counselor is a wonderfully strange position.  You're not really a "teacher", but you are.  You're not really an "administrator", but you're important to the administrative team.  It's a bit of an identity crisis, so I found it essential to define myself, the way I wanted to be a counselor.  Overall, I feel pretty good about how everything went this year.

I learned that each day on the job, you're like a celebrity.  When I had older students, they tried to act indifferent, but the love was there.  With my little loves, I felt like I walked a red carpet each day.  When I passed a line of kids, I got hug after hug after hug- as though I was famous.  Where else do you get that?!

I learned that a year is enough time to truly feel like a collegial family.  In one year, we laughed, we cried, we shared concerns about kids and joys for their successes and everything in between.  For that, I am so grateful.  I am not sure I could have made it through the tumult of my changing life without that support.

I learned, above all, if I put my mind to something, I can accomplish it and that I think I may be more capable than I even knew. 

Happy to close this school year, feeling successful, learning so much about myself and life, and knowing (after a restful and enjoyable summer) I will be ready to roll up my sleeves and go again next year.  But this time, I am smarter : )

1 comment:

  1. That is a really nice summary! I'm so glad you came to Liberty and I got a chance to know you. Enjoy your summer, you've really earned it!