⏰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🏝

It’s Time to Put OUR KIDS first!

It starts with my daughter, she heard the news before I saw her.

Another school shooting…this one in Texas, so much closer.

The day had just started, kids barely settled in class.

The quiet that follows the bustling hallways through which they daily pass.

To hear them describe it brings about a palpable too familiar grief.

I can’t fathom how many were in shock, and utter disbelief.

As teachers, we show up each day because we believe in every one.

Giving all we have to guide them, help them find where they belong.

God, help us as we navigate the waters of these days.

There shouldn’t be so much fear attached to a learning place.

So many kids once sought safety not found at home in school.

But now, I wonder where they can go when their minds must be so full?

They know no different, can’t see it doesn’t have to be this way.

We must change the situation, and stop allowing the delay.

The future belongs to young people, and it’s our job to clear

The path for them to learn in peace, there’s no more room for fear.

I am a professional teacher, I give all I have each day.

To make sure the kids in my room know they matter, and help them find a way.

I show up again and do my part to support your most precious possessions.

I’m asking for your help; stop arguing and find solutions!

I know things happen, and some of them are out of our control.

But now, that excuse won’t work, we can’t afford the toll.

My calling is to empower and teach; I do not wish a weapon to wield.

I’ll never see a student as the enemy as long as I’m in this field.

So come together, make decisions; get equipment, whatever it takes.

Because we have business to do, lives to change, just do it for the kids’ sakes!

Be a Perennial

Freezing temperatures, hail, and sleet throughout a long winter (for Texas) couldn’t keep the beauty of this plant from returning. After feeling like life has dealt me a long winter, I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to bloom again.

Changing My Definition of Peace

I always thought peace was the absence of hardship. But because God performed a true miracle in my life, I know that peace can be found in the best and the worst situations we face.

As a small child, I was the apple of my Daddy’s eye. The pride he felt for being my Dad was palpable to all who were around us. He had my name tattooed on his arm, and later, when my parents divorced, he had an 11×14 portrait of me in the living room of his apartment. I had no question that I was the joy of his life.

Then, as time went on, his struggles with mental health issues, alcoholism, and PTSD (brought on by a childhood filled of chaos and his time in the Vietnam war as a helicopter door gunner) took a toll on him. I know he was involved in a world that was filled with darkness, but I’ve been spared the details by all who knew. He was so ashamed of the person he’d become that he couldn’t stand to let me see him. So, our relationship stretched thinner by the year until eventually, I would have to make many phone calls and find his address and just show up to see him. I missed his presence in my life, but could only muster up the courage to hunt him down about once a year. He didn’t know me, and I certainly didn’t know him. Even when my daughter was born, years later, it was a challenge to coordinate a meeting with him so he could see my greatest joy.

Life went on, and as a new Mother, I knew that there was no way he was consciously making the choice to miss out on my life. I chose to forgive him and pray for his soul, without knowing if we’d ever be able to reconcile. My greatest fear was that I would receive a phone call one day that he’d passed away, and that opportunity would never present itself.

In January 2015, the phone rang. It was my uncle telling me that my Daddy was in the hospital, and they thought he had a brain tumor. I gathered a bag, left my new husband and daughter, and headed to see the unknown. When I arrived, he smiled ear to ear with the same joy emanating from within that I’d known as a child. He was unshaven, dirty from falling in the dirt due to his condition, very sick, but completely cognizant. I knew then that God had opened a door that I could not have opened alone. As I drove home to prepare to stay with him in the hospital while we got more information, I clearly heard God say to me, “It is well.”

What ensued after was a journey from diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer with a metastasis to the brain to a reconnection with loved ones who showed up with love and kindness. Because of the extent of the cancer and the weakness of his body, we chose to ask hospice to come in and provide him comfort as he left this world.

I never left his side longer than was required to shower, pack a new bag, and return, sleeping several nights in a zero-gravity lawn chair just to be near him, and at times, climbing in bed next to him just to feel what I’d missed for so many years. I rubbed his feet with lotion, wiped his face with a wash cloth, and was truly able to return the acts of love he’d shown me as a small child. My daughter and husband were able to meet my Daddy (the person I thought had disappeared many years ago) and I was beyond grateful to be able to witness and reconnect with his true spirit during those final days.

Eleven days later, he passed away peacefully. Red birds suddenly appeared everywhere I looked. It Is Well (With My Soul) of course, was one of the songs chosen for his funeral. To this day, when I hear that song or see a red bird, I am reminded of the true miracle that we were given as we spent my Daddy’s final days with him. The peace I am able to rekindle when I think about those tumultuous, yet beautiful days is truly that which “passes all understanding”.

So, when I created this blog, I chose the name “Peaceful Ahead” because my definition of peace is no longer the same. It does not mean that I will not face sadness, disappointment, or hardship. It means that I know that God has a plan, and that the miracles He presents are not always those we pray for or envision, yet they are exactly what we need when we need it most.

With that, I’d like to wish you all a day and life that’s truly peaceful ahead.

Instagram: @peacefulahead

staceyfade@peacefulahead.blog

🙏🏻A Poem of Prayer for My Teenage Daughter’s Journey Through Middle School🙏🏻

If you met my 13 year-old daughter,

You’d know she’s a blessing to me.

Wisdom exceeding her years,

Just trying a teenager to be.

Although boys are not yet her focus,

Her heart has been broken by life.

Not trying to create any drama,

Just fighting to overcome strife.

With a heart as big as Texas,

She worries about those whom she loves.

Watching family members face severe illness,

She’s kept faith in her God who’s above.

So, no, she’s not your typical teen,

She cares not about what others wear.

But she gives all she has to her loved ones.

And if you need her, she’ll be there.

It hurts my heart to see her

Keep trying her best to conform.

When I know that God made her special,

To show others how to weather a storm.

While her gifts may not be the ones sought

By those looking to fit in a mold.

I have no doubt they will serve her

As she grows more courageous and bold.

So many kids face the pressure

To stand out and be the star of the school.

They must keep their opinions inside,

Do what’s asked of them, follow the rules.

Well, I was one of those who tried,

To please everyone with all I had.

But I realized many years later

On the inside, I was quite sad.

I’d spent so much energy complying,

There was none left for me to see…

The unique gifts and beauty inside me,

Everything God intended me to be.

So when I became a Momma, I knew

That I’d do whatever necessary

To empower my girl to be herself,

In spite of societal norms to the contrary.

So while this part of life may be a challenge.

And at times hard to see the big picture.

I have faith that her strength will continue to grow,

And her gifts will lead to amazing adventures.

I’m beyond proud to be the Mother

Of a girl who’s true to her higher power.

And I’ll walk beside her through every step of this journey,

Knowing God’s plan is greater than ours.

When it seems that you’re lost in the masses,

And can’t find the place you belong.

Please remember that you’re already there…

Where God placed you; He knew all along.

Instagram: peacefulahead