September 1, 2011. First day of school. As a teacher. A real teacher with my own classroom. WOW. Another unforgettable moment in my life. It’s a PD day for teachers and I’m about to meet all the staff, participate in my first meeting and begin setting up my classroom. Can you say NERVOUS! I leave my cottage with tons of time to spare on this gloriously beautiful day.
*View from my cottage on the first day of school
But the longer I drive, the less I recognize the road. Panicking, I check the map app on my phone (safely pulled over on the side of the road of course!) and to my horror discover I’ve taken the ‘scenic’ route. Which, we all know is another word for ‘long’ route. I check the clock. I quickly input my destination and wait for it to load. I let out an audible sigh of relief knowing I should get there with a few minutes to spare.
And so began my professional career as a teacher. And what a place to begin my career. Complete strangers quickly became smiling faces of support in the hallways. Inquisitive co-workers helped me feel less lonesome by providing me with genuine interest in my personal past. Bonds began to form and friendships were forged. Some of the staff were even foolish enough to trust me into signing them up on a curling team that I would gallantly lead 🙂 Harmonies were sung. Stories of our brushes with fame were proudly told and laughter was shared again and again around the staffroom table.
I taught at that Elementary school for less than 3 months in a maternity replacement and then it was time to move on to another school were I would finish out the school year for a retiring teacher.
The highs and lows were many that year. This was the first big low. In such a short span of time I had grown attached to the students, co-workers and staff. The feelings of nervousness, excitement, self-doubt, and a thousand more emotions that you experience as a first year teacher on the first day your students arrive paled in comparison to having to transfer to another school to another grade level, mid-year, particularly when its still officially your first year as a teacher!
The day I transferred and officially started at Bloomfield was actually a PD day for teachers. I remember the low quite well. I was feeling overwhelmed after a staff meeting and can remember going to the washroom and having to stay a little longer to wipe away a few tears that slipped out.
That feeling didn’t last long. In no time at all I was laughing till my sides ached around this staffroom table. I was bartering with co-workers who would trade me duck and goose for a bottle of moose LOL. Another teacher was secretly teaching my class a song to persuade me to go down south with her during the March Break. An alliance was formed with another first year teacher as we bravely took on producing a spring concert for a primary drama club we had just founded. This was a school were everyone came together at the end of the day and waved to the school buses as they departed the parking lot. I think I was going to be fine. Just fine.
And I was. I was more than fine. And the people of West Prince PEI are the reason why. Homesickness and loneliness quickly evaporated and I felt blessed to have somehow managed to get a job in not one, but two amazing schools.
During that year not one, but two teachers offered me accommodations when unexpected events left me homeless on short notice. Families welcomed me into their homes for Thanksgiving dinner, lobster dinner and just because I was thinking of you invitations for dinner. My curling team was entering bonspeil after bonspeil and we were quickly become the sweethearts of our curling club. Friendships were being cemented with the passing of gas between colleagues (not me!! I was a witness!). More harmonies were sung. Random dance parties were had. Leprechauns were created. Not one, but two surprise parties were successfully planned. Neighbours of less than two weeks took me out in their boat to see my third home of the year from Mill River, along with some tubbing and water skiing. I could go on and on with the random acts of kindness I experienced all year in West Prince. Never ever had I felt I belonged somewhere in my life more so than now. If only I could find more work to stick around longer. If only…
Lucky for me, the year ended on the high of highs. I remember the date exactly. June 20, 2011. My 31st birthday. Two years prior I was sitting in my packed up trailer in Glovertown NL. One year prior I was passing in the final projects of my BEd. This year, well…
6:30am rise and shine. Last minute interview cram for a Grade 2 position next year at the school I started at. 7:30am go to school. 8:30am teach all day without a proper lunch break to ensure a last minute rehearsal with the primary drama club. 2:40pm beat the buses out of the parking lot to drive to Tignish. 3:30pm interview. 4pm high tail it to Alberton to meet co-workers for my birthday supper. 5:30pm drive back to school for the Spring Concert where my little primary drama club was about to debut their first ever performance of a musical production. 8pm start cleaning gym and stage after an incredible evening of talent. Sometime between 8 and 8:30pm pause to take a phone call in the school office. Accept probationary teaching assignment of a Grade 2 class back at Tignish. Do happy dance. Seriously. I did. While still on the phone. With people watching. 8:30pm leave school for the day.
And then, another unforgettable moment ensued. As I walked out into the school parking lot, into the pale light of sunset with the dusty pink sky, carrying two bouquets of flowers (one, a birthday present from my parents, the other, a token of thanks for the school administration for the evening’s production) I remember thinking this is what it must feel like to be a superstar on the red carpet, after having won some prestigious award. To me that award was the opportunity to stick around West Prince for another year doing what I love most. No, I wasn’t feeling so much like a superstar. I was feeling more and more like the most blessed person alive and wondering what I did to deserve all this happiness I was literally exploding with.