Summer’s Here–Let’s Have a Box Party!

Budget cuts have beaten the pure hell out of education for the past few years. We lost one of our middle schools to a tornado last year–thank God school wasn’t in session when it hit! Another multi-million dollar shortfall this year means that our school board voted to close my elementary school. Even though our pass rates for those No Child Left Behind or Untested tests hover near 98% each year, our central location and our old building made us the perfect target for closure. I’ve been teaching there for thirteen out of my seventeen years.

This will be my fourth building in a year and a half. Thanks to Obama Stimulus Money, my new Master’s Degree and I had to leave this beloved elementary school in 2009 to go teach reading intervention in middle school for two years. Great experience, but I like little kids better. Since last year’s tornado wiped out my middle school one Saturday night last April, we took over the other county middle school in the evenings until June.  I had the chance to come back to my original elementary school this year, but now that it’s closing, I’m on to another school next year.

So, long story even longer, I’m packing boxes AGAIN! I have about 1,000 kids’ books in my current reading center, plus my teacher books, plus two file cabinets, plus tons of games and manipulatives, plus numerous crates of big-kid books packed up in my closet. This is not counting all my stuff that was lost between the blown-out school and the warehouse.

This time, I’m moving ALL my teaching stuff to our shed at home so it won’t get lost. I’m very attached to my teaching junk, and I love to create a cool room each year. I believe kids and teachers should spend their learning/teaching time in a place conducive to creativity and fun, and I work damned hard to create that sort of environment each year. Besides, my taste is extraordinarily tacky, and I can let it all hang out in my classroom. Mr. Jenn has sort of put his foot down around the house—when he met me, I had painted the outside of my house pink and blue. I really needed to be stopped.

My middle school room had a nautical theme since so many of my kids came from fishing families. I had buoys, fish nets, a crab basket, and a crab pot stuck up on the walls and bulletin boards around my room. I had coconut windchimes and a ship’s wheel that I found at a thrift store. All those things are lost along with the entire Twilight series, my palm tree, all my Intervention books, and my lava lamp with the tie-dye lamp shade. Many of my colleagues lost their entire rooms, so I’m fortunate to have only lost a few things. The tornado spread some teachers’ thirty-plus careers across three counties.

But still. I looked through my old classroom window at one point to make sure the movers had gotten all my stuff. Luckily they had, but I was half-planning a secret mission in case more was left.  So what if half the ceiling had caved in? Some things a girl just needs!

Mr. Jenn’s going to have a hemorrhage when he sees the umpteen-jillion crates of crap I’m bringing home–we just moved Big A. and Big T. home from college. All their tubs and bags are in the basement now.

So if you go pick up your kid from school within the next couple of weeks and notice the teachers looking a bit harried, please realize what kind of crap they are packing up, putting away, and storing for the summer. While they may not be as nomadic or hoard-y as I am, this time of year is tough. A dear teacher friend of mine equates these days with labor.

“We’re in transition labor now. Soon we’ll get to push, and we can all go home,” she said the other day. That is a damned accurate comparison.

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