Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), and several Kindle ebooks.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Last Day of School

Yesterday was my last day in the classroom. I gave my notice several weeks ago. I still have exams to give next week, but exams are hardly teaching days. All I have to do is hand out papers, then sit and watch. And grade, of course, but that comes later.

When I answered the ad for a part-time adjunct English instructor back in 1999, I only meant to teach at Ferrum College for a semester. Then I was offered another semester, then another. I officially retired from public school teaching in 1997. Then I taught a couple of classes at ECPI in Roanoke and discovered I really liked teaching adults. When my husband and I moved to Franklin County, I saw an ad in the paper for the Ferrum position. On a whim, I answered. The rest, to use a cliché, is history.

As an adjunct instructor, I’m sort of an academic sharecropper. I come in each semester, sow some seeds, fertilize, and harvest a crop at semester's end. Then I sign up to do it again. The only crop I ever grow is English 101—freshman grammar and composition. And now my last harvest is nearly done. Oddly enough, I don’t think I will miss it. I have other things I want to do (such as maintain this blog).

I never meant to spend so much time in the classroom. When I was six, I started first grade at Huff Lane Elementary School in Roanoke, Virginia. My mother walked me to school and saw me to the door of Mrs. Willhide’s room. She told me she’d wait in the hall. Before the week was out, I learned that she lied. However, at the end of the first day, there she was in the hallway where she said she’d be. As we left the school grounds, I asked Mama how old I had to be before I could quit. She told me sixteen.

Later that day, I was playing on the sidewalk in front of my house when Mrs. Wertz from up the street came by.

“How did you like your first day of school?” she said.

“I hate it,” I said. “I’m going to quit when I’m sixteen.” Although I meant what I said at the time, it turns out I lied. I didn’t quit.

One thing led to another, I went to college and became a teacher. (In the mid-sixties, career choices were still limited for women: I hated the sight of blood, so nursing was out. I couldn’t see myself sitting at a desk all day, so secretarial work was out. The only career left was teaching. Besides, I’d gotten used to being in a classroom.) I got a teaching job, then married, moved to South Carolina, and couldn’t get a teaching job the first year in SC so I started grad school. After I received my masters, I was back in one classroom or another—junior high, high school, middle school, and college—until yesterday.

After 54 years, I finally did quit.

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