Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time, I was a high school English teacher.

Now I’m not.

I started to write my story here, but realized that I had already done so at a different time, for a different audience, with a different purpose in mind. The differences, however, are perfect for meeting my objectives here. This slightly altered goodbye letter to my fellow English teachers will give you a good sense of exactly where I was four months ago (names changed to protect the innocent … and guilty):

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ladies and Gentleman of the English Department,

It is with extraordinarily mixed emotions that I inform you of my request to be released from my contract effective December 31, 2011. I do not have it in me physically, mentally, or emotionally to be the kind of teacher that the current public educational system requires, so I think it would be best for the students, the department, and me that I step aside and make room for someone more compatible with the job.

That’s one of two “off-the-record” true reasons I gave Mr. Principal for my request. The other reason is spiritual. I knew within three weeks of this school year that I would either have to quit my job or make my peace with it. I’ve been willing all along to do either – whatever God required of me. Most of you have heard how upset I was over my recent unfair evaluation. Honestly, it wasn’t that big of a deal by itself, but it was the final straw that threw me smack in the middle of a crossroads. It demanded of me a decision, but I had not yet heard from God.

The morning after my evaluation, I called in sick for the first time this year, having cried myself sick during the night. I was pacing the floor at home and finally blurted out loud, “God, I need to hear from You. A simple ‘Go’ or ‘Stay’ will suffice.” I got my Bible and as I flipped through pages trying to decide where to read, Micah came to my mind (Really? Micah?). After finding it in the table of contents, I started reading with the first chapter and had my answer before the third: “Arise and go, for this is no place of rest…” Wow! The burden was lifted in that instant, and a remarkable peace took its place.

I’ve been waiting for the right moment to tell the powers-that-be. After breaking down and blubbering at the end of the 10th grade meeting with Anna, Maggie, and Connie Tuesday morning, I knew it was time. Technically, I should have informed the administration before I told anyone else, but some of you ladies just pull the “drama” out of me. I love you!

Mr. Principal was out Wednesday, but I had an agreeable meeting with him this morning. I made it clear that my decision was not based on my evaluation, and that I don’t “blame” anyone for anything because that would make me a victim, and I prefer to be a victor. He knows that I would love to leave with my credentials intact, but that I will leave, one way or the other. He told me that the board will likely agree to my request, thus preserving my credentials, based on his recommendation.

The official, “on-the-record” reason I gave for resigning is just as true as the two “off-the-record” ones mentioned above. I wrote that I will always be grateful for my experience at AHS, but that “I have taken an interest in another career field and need to resign from the teaching profession in order to explore the possibilities.” You see, I have always wanted to be a writer. I have a passion and a talent for it, and I believe it is God-given, so I am compelled to use it in any way He directs. As you know only too well, as a teacher, I have not had the time to pursue this dream (or ANY dream). Yes, I am aware that one can’t just decide one day to make a career of writing and expect immediate results (income-wise). For this reason I will likely get an editing or tutoring job of some kind in the interim.

So, to answer the question that I’m sure many will ask: no, I don’t know exactly what I will be doing, but I know Who does know, and He would not tell me to “arise and go” if He didn’t have a plan. I’m not the least bit worried. In fact, I’m excited! I’m prepared for the probability that some will think I’m crazy– I’m OK with that too!

Some of you have seen me upset, and I do have my moments of heartache over a lost dream (teaching), but they are momentary. I am completely at peace with this decision, and so is Mr. Principal. I am leaving on good terms with my credentials intact. Please do not tolerate any gossip to the contrary.

I wanted you to be the first to know of my decision (after it was official). I’m not necessarily asking that you keep it to yourselves, but I’m not comfortable being “what everyone is talking about” either. Don’t offer the information, but if asked, feel free to either confirm it or direct them to me, and please, please, PLEASE discourage and rectify inaccurate speculations.

Thanks, and I love you!

Mary Jane


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