Four years into retirement I still drop by the school where I once spent fifteen years.
At least twice a year.
I usually go to the Holiday Sing in December. And the day before the last day which, if there have been no snow days, is a records day with no students in attendance.
It was the tradition that on this day the few members of the staff who were men would grill brats for the rest of the staff for lunch. It was a tradition that preceded me and continues.
I go back for the brats and to see friends. And to share a little gossip.
One of the few bad things about retirement is that work is a place where you meet and develop friendships. And where you hear good gossip, especially about administrators.
Retirement provides fewer opportunities to develop friendships. And what’s to gossip about?
I heard the frustration with all the testing that has only increased since I left.
“They name those tests like we are taking a vacation,” a past colleague said. “MAP and PARCC. Sounds like we are taking a trip to a place with trees and a pond.”
Before heading back to close up their classrooms for the summer, a few members of the Carpenter Ukulele Society got together for a short jam.
My favorite teaching years were spent at this school. It was a place where we struggled to do good Special Needs inclusion with students. It was the greatest professional opportunity and I always felt lucky to be in the middle of doing work that was incredibly meaningful.
I say “good inclusion,”.
These days, with the budget fiasco in Springfield, the possibility that schools may not even have money to open in the Fall, and the Manar funding formula change that would remove dollars from hiring special education teachers, doing good inclusion is a huge challenge.
It can’t be done on the cheap.
Inclusion isn’t dumping students in a general education classroom with a general education teacher, class sizes of thirty and more and no support staff.
Inclusion isn’t a school that has no funds for a regular social worker, psychologist and special education specialists.
It isn’t RTI push-in programs.
We had to always fight for or against those things.
Now more than ever.