Friday, September 19, 2014

Day 3437

On my first day at West back in 1996, I wrote on the board “5,700 work days until retirement”.       I thought it was funny at the time and it became a nice running joke for many years both with my students as well as my peers as they approached their retirement.     A number of years ago, the count came down as it became apparent the magic number of “30 Years” no longer guaranteed retirement…………

While I am not sure how many days I have left to teach……… I do know that today, day 3,437, will be my last as a Wolverine.

Teaching in “limbo” for the last couple of weeks has left me a lot of time to think back on everything that has impacted me professionally and personally while at West……….and what is very apparent is that I need to say “Thank You” to so many people before I leave……….

First is Pat Sansone.    Pat taught me how to design curriculum for students with special needs. The principles she taught, I have used essentially every day for nearly twenty years.

To so many colleagues including (but not limited to) Lisa Rettler, Steve Marineau, Mary Kay Hammes and Nadine Krueger who modeled for me a work ethic that every day mattered and “mailing it in” was simply not acceptable.

To Dale Van Keuren……..Thanks for showing me the power of PLCing and pushing me to try new things.    

To David Towers for believing in me and empowering me to become a leader in this building.

To all the coordinators and instructional coaches that I have worked with the last few years…….Jill Davis, Stephanie Blue, Brian Yearling and Laura Ryan.     Thanks for your positive attitudes, encouragement, and “proof-reading” abilities.     I will take aspects of each of your leadership styles into my new roll! (Will you guys still proof-read?)

Thanks to all my students (okay, not all, but most)........especially my WHAPers.    The energy, work ethic and love you showed me in the classroom made these past twenty years fly by and enriched me in ways that money could not (though it would be nice to know if it could……..)

There are three current staff members who I need to say special thanks to as well………..

To Fred Jonas……….Thanks for modeling for me not only how to teach with passion, but how to stand up and speak out when you feel strongly about something.     I am thrilled to have been your tag-team partner for the last twelve years.      Its a shame we will not be able to "team up" next year......

To Bob Willis………..Thanks for showing me how to listen to others when they speak and how to temper my words before I do (something I still need to work on A LOT).      When I grow up, I hope to be like you.   You are a true “zen master” and everyone who works with you realizes they are a better person for having been able to.

To Mark Anderson……Thanks for your friendship these past ten years.     I sit in amazement at how quickly the creative juices flow through you and how effectively you channel these ideas into your classroom.     The absolute toughest part of leaving West was knowing we would not be able to spend time together every day.

I also have West to thank for giving me the greatest thing I have going for me. During my second year of teaching, I meet my wife, Mary, who was a newly hired speech-pathologist. She invited me to an IEP meeting and I invited her to a Billy Joel concert. The rest is history. Thanks for your love, support and encouragement to take this risk!

If you made it this far……. “thank you” as well for caring enough to read what I had to say!   

Finally, I want to wish the best of luck to Court and Katie, both of whom will be taking parts of my schedule.    I hope that this career gives you half the enjoyment it has given me……...if it does, you will both will have incredible careers!

This whole process has been an emotional roller-coaster and the well wishes I have been given have been very humbling.   It is hard to say good-bye……... to a place that has been, and still is, filled with so many wonderful friends and memories……...which is probably why I am still rambling on……….So here goes…..

Come Monday........Day 1

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