⏰Time to Turn a Page in My Teaching Career📚

My classroom is empty, and my time here has come to an end. Ten years…so much can transpire.

I started teaching Business Education classes to students at a small-medium sized campus ten years ago, and have taught in the same school every year since. Throughout that time, I’ve learned many lessons, experienced heartache, grown as a person and a professional, and ultimately realized what I already knew… what a blessing young people can be.

Before becoming a “Teacher”, I spent several years as a Corporate Trainer in the Financial Services industry, where I enjoyed the rewards of successfully preparing individuals for their new positions by providing accurate guidance, current policies, and user-friendly procedures. During that same time, I was also given the opportunity to volunteer with an organization dedicated to empowering victims of domestic violence with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the workplace. This opened my eyes to the gift of knowledge, and the blessing of sharing useful tools and skills with individuals who have a need to succeed, and a burning desire to learn.

After several mergers took place in banking, and my daughter was born, I was searching for my next direction. My nephew had graduated high school, yet needed a little help with the math portion of the ASVAB (military entrance exam). I was able to help him find the piece that kept him from succeeding in math (huge red flag: how did he ever make it to graduation without knowing this KEY piece of math???), and he was then able to enlist and serve our country as he’d intended. This was the first time I thought, “wouldn’t that be great to help others in the same way?”

Soon after that, I ran into my middle school G/T teacher at the store; she was the director of the local community college’s alternative certification program for teachers. Would I be interested…? The rest, as they say, is history.

Now, ten years later, I’m leaving the school where my teaching journey began. So much has changed. My teenager was a toddler. I was a single Mom. I was inspired and energetic, yet had so much to learn. I believed that most kids were raised by parents who cared. I thought that being clean, having a few sets of presentable clothing, bringing school supplies, and having enough food to eat were things all kids could expect. I also assumed that most parents had what it took to provide proper support to kids struggling with mental health issues. Wrong! Anxiety and depression are more prevalent now than when I started teaching for so many reasons (technology, drug abuse, broken homes, underdeveloped communication skills), and those conditions do not discriminate, nor limit themselves to financially struggling families.

Before becoming a teacher, I truly believed the worst things one should be concerned about for their children were alcohol, drugs, and pregnancy. So naive. In my classroom, where I create a safe space, I have heard stories that would break your heart while blowing your mind. Stories of emotional neglect, immense pressure to be perfect, kids taking care of parents instead of the way it “should” be. And it’s not what you think…it’s not kids from a certain background, socioeconomic status, etc.. The stories come from students of all walks of life.

It has always been my goal to remind those who endure the most challenges that the struggles they face now are giving them a leg up on their future. The peers surrounding them who have not struggled don’t know what it means to be grateful for the littlest things…like your teacher having snacks so your stomach won’t growl, or someone greeting you with a warm “hello” every day, or feeling warm because there’s no heat on, or just being able to be silly because everyone at your home is always angry or fighting. The fact that these kids show up every day in spite of their situations outside of school is a feat many of us can not identify with. Yet, the resilience they show beats that of most adults I know. Like I said, teenagers are awesome!

So, I’m closing a chapter on a ten year run where I’ve taught ten different classes, served as a sponsor for a couple of organizations, assisted my peers with technology, and met some of the most amazing young people you will ever meet. I’ve made some forever friends, fought cancer, met (the teacher across the hall) and married the love of my life, and had final reconstruction surgery after breast cancer. I am beyond thankful for the love and support shown to me during what was undoubtedly the most challenging time of my life thus far.

Now, it’s time for me to begin a new chapter. Starting in the Fall, I’ll be teaching at a small charter school. I’m so excited for the opportunity to work in a smaller setting, closer to home, and have more time available for my precious family. I’ll be taking on some new roles, and I’m thankful to be in a good place (mentally and physically), ready to learn and grow.

Change can be difficult, and going into the unknown is a big leap. But my soul is certain of a few things. 1) Kids are awesome, and I believe in the power of education! 2) A change of environment is just what I need to rejuvenate my passion for teaching. 3) I would have never been prepared for the task in front of me without experiencing all of the lessons learned over the last ten years. 4) As my daughter enters her teen years, she needs more of me than ever before. While there are many unknowns ahead of me, I have faith that God has given me an opportunity to reprioritize and recognize the most important pieces of my life’s puzzle, and provided a new path where these can stay at the center of my focus. Since battling cancer, nothing could be clearer to me than the fact that our souls MUST be in alignment with our true purpose and that God makes a way for that to happen, usually when we least expect it.

So, I’m asking for your prayers as I embark upon a new journey. I hope to rekindle the flames of inspiration I felt as a new teacher while keeping the wisdom of experience at the forefront of my mind. Life is filled with so many challenges and obstacles, especially for young people. My deepest passion is empowering students with the tools necessary to achieve a happy, fulfilled life. I have no doubt that I’m headed in the right direction, and can’t wait to meet the next group that I’ll sincerely refer to as “my kids”.

May you all find the thing that sets your soul on fire, and be relentless in pursuit of whatever that may be. This is the only way to a life that’s peaceful ahead.

Blessings to all,

🏖Stacey🏝

Don’t Wait…Celebrate!

From someone who has had the give up the ordinary experiences that make life beautiful…please, don’t wait!!!

At any moment, your life could change as you know it. Plans canceled, dreams delayed, and hopes deflated. Please, don’t wait for that moment to come to start seeing the beauty in the everyday predictable moments of life.

When you can’t find the strength to get out of bed, or the courage to add one more thing to your “to do” list, it is the consistently simple things that you will miss…much more than the special events that are faint memories.

So, today, appreciate the energy to do laundry. Give thanks for the ability to plan for the week ahead. Soak in the sounds of your loved ones laughing.

Do it today! Just because you CAN!

Instagram: peacefulahead

In the Pursuit of Peace, God’s Plan is Greater

I am a planner. I like to buy planners and pens, and use sticky notes. I have spent many hours of my life writing down my plans in a color-coordinated fashion, and marveling at the beauty of a month’s page filled with all of life’s daily details.

But, a breast cancer diagnosis and the related variety of surgeries and treatments (along with the never-ending list of unpredictable side effects) forced me to let go of my perceived control. Many days, I did not know what the next hour would hold, much less the next day, and certainly not the month ahead.

It has been five years since my world was turned upside down, and I’ve slowly returned to the beauty of planning. There are no words to describe the gratitude I feel for the ability to somewhat predict what lies ahead.

However, my mindset has changed in so many ways. Because I was forced to live with uncertainty, I grew more comfortable with the fact that some things are out of my control. Some days, my only plan involves maintaining my peace, in spite of my surroundings. For this reason, I started crocheting two years ago, following in the footsteps of my Grandmother’s talent.

She was the most peaceful person I’ve ever known, crocheting and praying every single day. She’s been gone for 15 years now. While I never learned to crochet from her, I quickly learned that I had an innate talent for using a hook and thread. I started with the basics, improving with each effort, with the ultimate goal of creating fine doilies like hers. I learned to read patterns, but found myself enjoying the experience more when I would “wing it”, allowing my soul to dictate the next stitch. I started the piece in this image with no pattern, and it became the one of which I’m most proud.

I couldn’t help but relate that to God’s plan for us, which we can not always see until we look back on how beautifully things worked together for our good.

As I embark on the final phase of my breast-cancer treatment (upcoming reconstruction), I am able to find peace, without needing to plan out every step of the journey. I know that whatever lies ahead will build strength, bring clarity, and form peace in my soul more so than any foreseeable circumstance that I could’ve planned…even with the prettiest planner and pen collection.

Here’s to fully trusting Him for a life that’s peaceful ahead.

Peacefulahead.blog

Instagram: peacefulahead

Email: peacefulahead@gmail.com

Balancing Life with Depression: the Ups and Downs

Well, it’s been a couple of months since my last depressive episode, and I’ve been feeling absolutely amazing!

Last week was Spring Break, and if I were depressed, the week would’ve consisted of days flying by, consumed with napping, eating, sleeping, and repeating.

However, for the first time in many years, I actually had the energy to GO DO SOMETHING EVERY DAY without the need to take a nap! I even visited with two different friends in one day…meeting one for lunch, the other for dinner. WHO is THIS girl???

Fast forward to today, and I’m back in my room with my kids. It was one of those glorious days I remember having with my students BBC (before breast cancer, 5 years ago this month). Today, I was able to hold their attention, get them to share without fear, and interact harmoniously as we navigated the basics of budgeting.

These are the precious moments of teaching that I’ve been missing…that anxiety, depression, chemo brain and PTSD stole from me for the past several years. I’ve been paralyzed, and doing my best to just show up for so long that I’d forgotten the beauty of a classroom that runs like a well-oiled machine, one that I have facilitated into a safe and encouraging environment where learning takes place organically.

Because I’m feeling so well today, and have been for a while, it’s quite difficult to remember the darkness of so many previous days. For so long after going through surgery and treatment, it took every last bit of energy for me to make it to work, much less, make it through the day, without stopping to rest before then make the drive home, only to finally collapse from pure exhaustion.

I feel so optimistic and hopeful right now, that a huge part of me wants to believe that I will never experience those feelings of incompetence, sadness and emptiness again. But, based upon the pattern of the past few years (discovered by a couple of years of counseling), another episode that typically lasts several weeks is looming around the corner, possibly coinciding with my upcoming reconstruction surgery.

So, the eternal optimist in me wants to go with my current state of mind, decide that I’ll soldier through it, and maintain my current state of peace. But, the realist knows that I should soak in the good days just as I am every bit of the returning Spring sunshine, and brace for what’s ahead.

How does one who looks for the the positives in every situation force the mind to expect the worst?

I can only pray for continued clarity, strength, and direction through this mind-boggling maze. Here’s hoping that at the very least, it’s somewhat peaceful ahead.