Inside the following post is a letter expressing my gratitude and love for the school I will be leaving at the end of this week. It is addressed to my colleagues, peers, students, and the community who have meant so much to me the last seven years.
Dear North Gwinnett Family,
These words will fall woefully short of how I’d like to express my gratitude for the last seven years you’ve given to me. As a former student turned teacher, I have had NG red and black coursing through my veins for well over fourteen years, and I have a deep appreciation for our community. In fact, when I took my position at the school, I truly believed I might never leave that I would be a lifer. But life has a funny way of changing our beliefs and perceptions. While North is an amazing school and community filled with some of the finest students and professionals I could ever hope to work with, it became important to me in the last year that there were new challenges and opportunities that I needed to take on as I try to never live with regrets. There is nothing–and I mean nothing–easy about leaving this family; I simply know it’s the right choice at this point in my professional career. That being professed, here are a few direct thank yous I need to make:
To my colleagues–You are all consummate professionals of a caliber that forced me from day one to step up my own game as a professional teacher. You consistently show a level of professionalism and commitment to students that is verifiable proof to our nation that great teachers, classrooms, and schools exist and are thriving. You all taught me the importance of teamwork and collaboration within our teams and departments, but in many cases even in efforts to cross our curricula at times. I am in awe of how some of you impart knowledge on so many kids and help develop them as great thinkers. I am in awe of how many of you spend countless hours outside of school developing plans, grading, but even more importantly supporting students via coaching, sponsoring, and attending student events. You are a community of professional educators who truly cares about your students and each other. Thank you to each of you who has ever helped me work through my frustrations, talked me through my uncertainty, believed in my abilities, gently corrected me when I was in the wrong, celebrated me when I did well, encouraged my creativity, and supported my growth as an educator who hopes to leave a legacy that many of you will leave to this community and your students.
To my administrators–Without your support of me and my efforts the last seven years, I might not have grown to truly love my job the way that I have. It takes great teacher leaders in a school to build a healthy and strong school community, and you all do it with integrity and grit. You looked out for my best interest and supported me in even my more off-the-wall pursuits. Most importantly, you trusted my judgement as a teacher and recognized me continuously as a professional. Each of you played a vital roll in my growth and each of you challenged me to give more of myself each year. Your behind-the-scenes work is easily taken for granted because I never saw your day to day challenges–all because you wanted to ensure my classroom and other’s were uninterrupted by those daily challenges. Thank you for that! I always felt safe, and I believe our kids have too. You are all pillars of what administrative leaders should look like. Maybe most importantly of all, you are all pillars of what it means to be a good human being.
To my students–Wow. You are all so incredible. You’ve each changed my life in ways that are hard for me to articulate. You’ve brought me joy and frustration–but mostly joy! All kidding aside, with no children of my own yet, you’ve been the closest experience I’ve had to being a father and while I am simply your teacher (or was your teacher), please know that I carry a father’s pride when I talk about you and celebrate you with others I talk to about my classroom. Many of you have proven to me what young men and women are capable of when you simply give them the chance to try. I no longer believe in myself as the sole expert in the classroom; rather, I now look at you as my co-writers of knowledge and learning. I have so thoroughly loved writing this entire story with you. You consistently amazed me with your tenacity and resilience–there have been times you’ve left me in awe. My sincere hope is that if I’ve left you with any lesson from your time in my classroom that it would simply be to do good in this world, put others ahead of yourself as often as possible, and never take something sold to you as truth at face value–always be tenacious enough to investigate for yourself. Thank you for being my co-pilots and making my classroom a place I love to be.
To all of the above and the parents and supporters that make up this community, thank you! Thank you for your influence on helping build me into the teacher I am today. Thank you for the easy lessons and the difficult ones–each has had an influential effect. I am only ready to take on these new challenges next year because of the vital role you all have played in my life. I look forward to a bright future, but please know North and its people will always be carried with me and will never stop being a vital influence in my maturity as a man and an educator.