As I reflected on my last night in America for a while I found myself thinking of how I “left my job”. Many people keep reminding me of this fact, the fact that I am both leaving everything in America but also that I am leaving my nice, paying job. In truth St. Joseph School means so much more to me than just a school or a place to work. I attended religious education at St. Joseph Church when I was a child in elementary school, it is where I received first communion and where I was confirmed and welcomed into a Catholic community. It was also the parish that gave me my first opportunity to teach and share in our work of spreading God’s love through the way we live our lives. The St. Joseph community has always been in my life. Over the past two years I reflect on the parents, staff and children of St. Joseph. I start to think everyone is partially wrong because I am not just leaving “my job” I am in fact leaving “my perfect job”. I mean was just named “King” for the school after only 2 years …
The parents are perfect. The support from the school was endless. Whether it was with an educational decision or with adopting a huge role in helping Stella Maris, there was incredible support. The parents all fully accepted me from the moment I walked into the school a week after being home from Africa (both times). When they pictured the perfect first grade teacher for their 6 year old boy/girl, I can be certain it was not my image they saw. Nevertheless they were patient, kind and open minded to accepting me despite these quirks. Not many teachers are as blessed as I am to know in my heart that every day I was made a better teacher because I was working together with the same goals in mind. The parents are always present physically in the school, helping and supporting me in every way they could. Even when it came time for me to announce my leaving, I was humbled to see the support I got from my fund raiser and throughout the school. I will miss the parents for their support, friendship and Christian example that they have given me.
The staff was perfect. I was often visually out of place being the only male primary teacher, but never once did I feel that way. I was blessed to have the single greatest mentor, teacher, friend and example of love to guide me through my years at St. Joseph School in Sharon Shute. She is sometimes lost in my story as a teacher which is why I want to talk about her, because I know she will read this too : ). She not only taught me how to be a better teacher, but also a better example of God’s love for the children of St. Joseph and Stella Maris. She taught me how important love is for a teacher, how it is a tool of strength and the greatest resource of a great teacher. Without love we can do nothing great, that is certain, but Sharon taught me how without love for every student, a teacher cannot be great. With love comes patience and desire to make every child better every day. I would often refer to her as mom because I would talk with her about how to help students but also everything else going on in my life, which I will miss. I will miss her/the staff’s guidance, attitude and love but I know that now it is time for me to be that example for others.
The children of St. Joseph were perfect. No school is without “problems” or conflicts, because that is part of the learning process, frankly that’s why we work in a classroom together. However I can honestly say I never left school once thinking “man that was a bad day”. Every day I found myself drawing confidence, strength and inspiration from the children. Every morning they would walk up to me just to share some silly thing that happened that morning, say hi or give me a hug. There is no better way to start a day and I was blessed to have this experience every morning for 2 years. What is most remarkable is not that I love and care for my 45 children I taught at St. Joseph, but that I will miss the other hundreds that walked the hallway. I will miss saying hi to all the children, giving high fives and hearing about what’s new. I will miss watching them grow in abilities and seeing that “light bulb” turn on when they understand a new concept. I will miss the students for their energy, intelligence and love that they have given me but I will carry them always in my heart.
Thank you St. Joseph Church and School. You have and always will be my home. I look forward to walking hand in hand together on this journey, because without all of you none of this is possible. I carry each and every one of you who have supported me in my heart and in my actions. I have been so blessed to have all of you in my life and everything I do to help others is made possible from the love I have received from you.
Next time I check in (within the next week) I will be in Tanzania. Asante sana na mungu akubariki! Thank you and God bless.