swim, chem, baseball, I talk with my hands
Today I said farewell to a job I have held for twelve years, in a profession I have enjoyed for over 25 years. At first glance, there are anecdotal data that suggest I contributed greatly to the education of the students at this school. I have inspired some students to keep reaching higher in science. “Oh my God, Quinton! You are the best!” “You helped me so much! Don’t leave!” What might not obvious about me is how easily I dismiss this input as I know I am not that good. Besides, the methodology for gathering this information is not statistically significant.
There are also (anecdotal) data to suggest otherwise, and that I have clearly failed some students. This information is often more candid than anything I would know under other circumstances. “Oh hey, now that you are leaving I hear that more freshmen are signing up for chemistry honors!” My personality requires that I allow this to soak in a bit more deeply, as these people must have always seen the “true” Quinton.
Certainly there are objective data that provide a more complete picture of my contributions. I directed the sophomore chemistry honors curriculum to be both challenging and lab-focused, helping many students see that science is a continual process and not a series of facts or calculations. I have coached AP Chemistry students to success on a very challenging national exam. I have supported dozens of students to conduct independent research. I chaired the science department for 7 years. I helped to start the science outreach to local students as a bridge between our privileged community and those without resources. I chaperoned countless activities. I helped design the current science building. I appointed myself the varsity baseball scorekeeper and home announcer. I even organized the yearly softball game between the faculty and the seniors.
So how do I frame all of this? What do I say when asked how the past 12 years have been in my life? Was it worth it? Am I sad to leave?
What is absolutely true is that I have been 100% committed to the mission of the school and have passionately advocated on its behalf. Hell, I even sent my own children here, despite NOT getting any tuition break for being an employee. In sports speak: I left it all on the field. I spent all of myself working towards being the best I could be for the sake of the students at the school.
The hardest part about teaching is the “goodbye” every year. Families expect me to know and support and love their student in my class and I do just that. Oh, it’s difficult to accomplish as love means effort – love is an action – love is a choice. And then I am expected to wish them well as they leave and move along. That’s the job. That’s what I did… AND I LOVED EVERY MINUTUE OF IT!
For the opportuity to teach at SHP I am forever grateful. I thank those that led me here and those that worked along side of me. I thank those that tolerated my idiosyncracies and I wish well to those who never understood how much I cared about them and the school. I am indebted to my students who helped me learn what it means to teach.
I will miss you all terribly…