For everything there is a season... Ecc. 3:1
Retiring during Covid could pretty much be summed up as “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” (I know I lifted that line from Charles Dickens, but since he’s been dead for over 100 years, I doubt he much cares.)
It was the best of times because we did not have to teach this year. It was an incredibly difficult year for teachers, students, and parents. But, frankly, we identified most with our friends and old colleagues. A year of in-class instruction, coupled with a constant number of students online from multiple quarantines— The dreaded scenario of the principal entering your classroom to inform you, “You have been exposed. You’re on a 2 week quarantine. Pack up your stuff now and go home.” That meant not only students online, but also in the classroom with a sub—sub plans for 2 weeks. What an exhausting year! But, they did it—all of them: teachers, students, parents. After 2 more days of finals, everyone can put this year behind them. They will be thankful it’s over. We are thankful that we didn’t have to do it.
It was also the worst of times. To retire during Covid brought little, if any, closure. From the middle of March, classes were online. After entering the last final in the computer, a button was pushed, and it was over. We did need to clear out our rooms and put things in order for those who would take our places, but it had to be done in solitude and aloneness. Access to the building was scheduled and limited.
Boxes were carried to either the trash or the truck. I surveyed the classroom in which I had spent so many days of so many years of my life. The room was more organized and cleaner than it had been since the building was new. I took one last picture of a yellow wall that desperately needed painting and closed the door. All was quiet and surreal. We turned in our keys and drove home. We dumped boxes of “school” in a room upstairs, where some still sit.
Teachers were not allowed to attend graduation last year. It was the only graduation I missed in 31 years. None of it ended the way we’d planned. No graduation, one “unlawful” party, no big hurrah. Jay has always said that “the end of the school year doesn’t wind down; it winds up.” During Covid, it simply ended.
In many ways I feel like we’ve come full circle. Graduation is Friday. We will be there. We’ve been to one graduation party already and this weekend is party-hardy full. These seniors are my old sophomores and Jay’s old seventh graders. They are a fun group of kids. It’s been so refreshing to see them. It’s so much fun to celebrate with them. On our walk along the greenway today, I felt exhilarated. This is how it should end. So, I decided to vicariously retire this year with the seniors as they walk across the stage.
Life doesn’t always turn out the way we planned. Yet, even in the midst of bewilderment, there is assurance that all will turn out the way God has planned. “Joy [does] come in the morning.” And now, I’m ready to take off this mask and step into a new season, not unlike the seniors I’m so proud of.
For everything there is a season