41 years later

My supervisor is retiring next month after 41 years in education.  He started in this district 2 year before I was born!  He was hired as a MS science teacher originally, then was the first science teacher to teach in the new HS they created later.  Fast forward and he is in the last month of his career in education.  I am finishing my 14th year so I am pretty much finishing the first third of my career (assuming I can’t reach my goal of 50 years. Sorry, honey, it’s going to happen).  I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of the most important parts of the past 14 years. (All years are approximate to make this post easier to write)

14 years ago–I met Aashish (just had a kid!), and Martha, and Alexia (got a 9 for the marking period and is now working on her MA in biochemistry!), and Ashley (getting married!), and Ben (is now a 7th grade science teacher). Received the nickname “Evil Seigel” for how much work I gave them in AP Chemistry.

13 years ago–took a group of amazing seniors to Florida when everyone said it couldn’t be done. Christina (now a teacher too!) fundraised so much money we actually had to give her some back as spending money.

12 years ago–Had a group of girls tell me something so personal that it changed my life and gave them courage. Started the fencing club. Let Lizzy hangout in my classroom (and then she wouldn’t leave!).

11 years ago–Got tenure. Watched Alex and Ana create a unsinkable mousetrap-powered, amphibious vehicle (actually filled it with water and weights and couldn’t get it to sink). Kicked Guy out of my class (the first and only student this has happened to).  Apologized to him later for it.  Watched Lucy make a presentation on what would later become the focus of her Ph.D. thesis.

10 years ago–Won Teacher of the Year for my school. Convinced Irene to go out with Kirk (they are married now!).

9 years ago–Accepted Teacher of the Year from the Class of 2006 from Bea (teaches English in China!).  Had to say goodbye to amazing students and colleagues.

8 years ago–Ran the worst department meeting. Followed it up later in the year with the best department meeting.  Met some amazing friends.  Fired someone.

7 years ago–Kissed a pig. Gave Alyssa an award and took one of my favorite photos ever with her.

6 years ago–Became a fencing coach, officially. Met Sara, Claire, Megan (happy birthday!), and Jae. Forgot who I was supposed to be.

5 years ago–Found myself (turns out I was just hiding for a little while). Got to coach Katherine. Had Barry show me that teenagers are different. Discovered that Jackson was a hacker and wicked smart.

4 years ago–Had my best fencing season as a coach and walked away from the sport.  Said goodbye to some of my favorites.

3 years ago–Presented at my first national conference. Started to figure out who I was supposed to be. Met Christiana, Matt, Xena and Raven (all graduating in 3 days!). Made some new friends.

2 years ago–Met Jordan (always making me proud), Christina and Tara. Dariel inspired me to do something I didn’t think was possible.  Was thanked 180 times by Maddie. Presented at my 2nd national conference.  Got to team teach with Melissa for the first time.  Watched Eric almost win on Big Brain Theory.

1 year ago–Got a chance to teach AP Chem for the 9th time. Collaborated with students in Indiana via Google Hangout. Helped write a book! Was featured in several magazine articles.  Got accepted into the Google Teacher Academy.  Talked about life and college with Elias and Bobby. Tried to find the meaning of life with Jess (we failed). Discovered Sarah and Phoebe are unbelievably stubborn. Started a TED Ed Club. Watched John reinvent school. Created something Caitlin was proud to be a part of. Became an Explorer.

Every year I get a yearbook.  My fencing coach in HS did this.  When he retired after 37 years, he swept his hands over 3 shelves of yearbooks and said, ‘This is my career.’  Even after 14 years, names and faces are fading, details becoming fuzzy around the edges.  This is by no means a complete list and there are hundreds of students that I have forgotten to mention (please don’t assume these are my favorites. ALL of my students are my favorites!).

I have had a really great career so far (with many bumps along the road).  I wonder what the next 28 years will bring.


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