Year One


On Thursday I broke up a fight.*

I always wondered what kind of person I would be in a time of crisis. I read this whole book on how people react to disasters (ok so a fight isn’t a natural disaster but work with me), and tried to decide who I would be. Would I fight, freeze, or flee? I always say I’d be the kind of teacher to break up a fight, but frankly I’m kinda a wimp so I doubted myself. If my life were a horror movie, I’d probably be the one who dies first, not the one who is alone and stuck in the creepy bathroom trap at the end of the movie.

But on Thursday, it was 3:22 p.m. and I was sitting at my computer waiting for the then-two-minute-late bus dismissal to begin. I was grumbling, typing away at my lesson plans for the next week, when suddenly I hear a whack and a splat. I look up to see human A reach out and latch his hands around the throat of human B. I leap into action. “YOU – OUTSIDE!”

The kids often hit each other as some sort of affection-showing mechanism, and I’ve learned to get used to it. But this time it was different – this time there was a little more venom. I got the sense that this was a “real fight,” because everyone spent the remaining minutes gossiping about it, and it was the buzz of the hallway when I went to check on human A, who I’d sent out of the room.

That is until the next day, when it’s officially deemed “horseplay,” because to call it a fight means they each have to get 3-5 days of out-of-school suspension. The key witnesses say that, “he didn’t choke her – Ms. Abram got there before he could do anything.”

So, technically, I didn’t break up a fight. I broke up “horseplay.” Whatever, I’m still proud of myself AND I have newfound confidence that I would survive to see the end of a horror movie.

Year One

Turn Up

NB: if you don’t understand the concept of turning up or down, please listen to this while reading this for a quick explanation.

Friday was Homecoming.

Surprisingly similar to my own high school experience, I’m popular amongst the senior football players. They frequently stop by my room to chat between classes, or when they’re supposed to be in class, despite the fact none of them are actually on my roster.

On Friday, in between second and third block, the quarterback swings past to say hey.

“Hey what’s up?” -him
“Nothing much, you excited for tonight?!” -me
“You know it! Homecoming! It’s gonna be great. Turn up!”
“Yeah! … What! No. Turn down! Turn down!”
“What?? NAW turn up!!”

[here he begins to walk to his next class, and I begin to yell down the hallway to him]


Happy Homecoming.

Year One

Part VI

Why am I here? What is it that I was looking for again? Am I actually making a difference? Could I be making a bigger difference if I was somewhere else, doing something else? Why did I leave all the people I love? Is it socially acceptable to go home (904 or 202) every weekend? Should I be trying to really settle and create a life for myself here? Do I want to? Am I happy? Am I happy enough? If I’m not supposed to be here, then where, and doing what?

Whenever I want to give up – even for half a second – someone, usually my mother chimes in, “you can’t quit, your kids need you.” But, is it me that they really need?

Year One

Part V

I was offered a position to teach in a South Carolina on May 10, 2013. I accepted this offer to join TFA six months later. A lot of things in my life changed between November 2013 and May 2014, and even now to August 2014 when I moved. I mean this in the sense that second semester I wasn’t drowning in extracurricular and academic commitments, and I actually had a second to breathe and think about my life and who I am and who I want to be.

I officially clicked “confirm,” around midnight on Halloween 2k13. I decided I needed to move because I decided I needed to get away. I do not know why I held to this belief so steadfastly. I decided that if I stayed, I wouldn’t leave Foggy Bottom or let go of my college life. I decided that I needed to start anew, to try something difficult and scary. I decided that I needed to find myself.

Now, I don’t know if I was actually lost.

Year One

Part IV

“Are you happy?”

The answer is a yes with a very confident question mark at the end.

“Yes? Yeah? I think so?”

They ask if I could do it all over again, if I would still choose TFA. I say yes. I don’t know if I say yes because it’s true or yes because I really want it to be true.

I really want it to be true. I really want to be happy. I tell myself everyday that I am happy and good and great because if I say it and think it, then maybe it’s true. I put on a huge smile every morning when I walk into my classroom, because I know the second I stop, the second I frown, that’s when it all goes to pieces. So, I smile and I pick my chin up and I tell everyone that I am happy and great- because to say that I’m not is a terrifying admission that I’m afraid will swallow me whole. Because at the least, at the least I owe my kids the rest of the year.

Year One

Part III

I talked about TFA a lot in DC. Because I have some of the most wonderful friends in the world, the conversation generally went like this:

“GOOD good it’s all good!”
“No, really. How are you?”
[expectant look]
“It’s good! It’s okay. It’s fine. It’s busy. And exhausting. And disheartening and difficult and…” then I launch into a dozen of explanations and stories and they start to get an idea of what really goes on in my life everyday.

Year One

Part II

The number one question I ask myself on a day to day basis goes something like this:

Why do I live in Florence, South Carolina, when all of the people I love live somewhere else?

If you were to list off all of the people I love most on this planet, you would find that all of them live in one of two locations – the 904 or the 202. There are specifically only two exceptions, the two losers I know who live in Gainesville and Dallas.

But really, this is everyone. All my family lives in Jacksonville, and all my friends live in DC.