Thirteen years ago, I packed up everything I could fit into a Honda Civic and moved from Livonia, Michigan to Chandler, Arizona. I wanted to teach and living in a struggling Michigan economy with very few job opportunities for new teachers, moving to Arizona and getting a few years experience seemed to be the logical choice. I was leaving my friends and family, I didn’t know anyone, and I was starting a week after students had already started. The amount of times I asked myself during the 40 hour drive “What the #@!? are you doing?” is uncountable. I truly had no idea what I was getting into becoming a teacher at Willis Junior High School.
I write this now because Wednesday is my last day as a teacher at Willis, a school that was just supposed to be a quick stop but became so much more than that. Willis is a school where I met my wife, made lots of friends, and impacted the lives of thousands of junior high kids. I have coached 39 sports seasons, taught Science, Pre-algebra, Algebra, Geometry, Math Intervention, started a blended learning program, and even had a class for students with emotional disabilities one year. Everything I know about teaching has come from working at Willis so to say leaving will be tough is the understatement of my life.
As I leave I want to give a huge thank you to all the teachers, administrators and students who have molded me into the person I am today. Thanks to the teachers who in my first week invited me to go bowling with them and welcoming me to the Willis family. Thanks to all of my team members throughout the years who gave advice, listened to me, and helped me grow throughout the years. Thank you to the principals, assistant principals, and deans who have have given me opportunities to develop both as a teacher and as a leader. Most importantly, thanks to all the students who challenged me to be a better person. I’ve learned so much about myself because of each and everyone one of you.
This brings me to the next journey in my life. Next week I am going to pack my room into my Sonata, leave my friends and the Willis family, and start a new adventure as the dean of students at Payne Junior High School. I will probably ask myself many times, “what the #@!? are you doing?” but as I’ve learned from this last 13 years if you are not asking yourself that question on a regular basis, you may have fallen into a trap of complacency.
I am very excited for what my future holds. I live in the Payne community and my son will go there for the 2019-2020 school year. I am excited to work with teachers and coaches to learn from them, listen to them, and do everything we can to make students enjoy their awkward two years of junior high. As hard as it may be to leave a place I call home, the next chapter in my life awaits and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.