It's been three weeks since I left behind Mississippi, and my two years of teaching English in a rural Delta school district (and two partial summers of mentoring and coaching new teachers!). I've been meaning to sit down and give an "ending" to this blog, so to speak, and I think enough time now has passed that I feel like I can do that objectively.
Leaving Mississippi (or more specifically, education in Mississippi) was definitely bittersweet - certainly "relief" might be the first word that comes to mind. I am relieved to be back in an educated state, in a place I love, surrounded by family and old friends. I am relieved that I will never again have to face the pressure, stress, and heartbreak of teaching in the Delta.
But a part of me is distinctly frustrated at the thought of leaving the classroom, or the realm of education. I'd like to work a way back into the education sphere in some way - if not through a career, then peripherally as a volunteer, a board member, a community leader, or even as a participant in a sort of wider conversation about education reform. That was the root of much of my Mississippi woes - I would rather reform the way education happens (to avoid the huge gap in achievement for low-income students) than try to work within a broken system (as a teacher to those low-income students). That conclusion was reinforced as I crossed into Minnesota driving up 35N on my way home from Mississippi. Ironically enough, the first thing I hear over the radio in Minnesota was the last 30 minutes of the Minneapolis School Board Meeting (broadcast over public radio) -- I thought I was leaving education only to re-discover it in a whole new way as I arrived. Listening in on the meeting was fascinating. No board meeting in a Mississippi school district would sound like this. But they had their fair share of big problems, controversial issues and inside arguments, too. Made me want to hop on the bandwagon as soon as I can - and I still plan to.
And so ends this blog. I hope someday soon I will have the sort of incredible inspiration that teaching in the Mississippi Delta brought to me (with perhaps little more free time!), so that I might start a new blog, with new thoughts, on new experiences. I'll leave this blog up here -- partly because it serves as a easy way to remember my experiences, and partly because it might help future teachers cope with theirs. Feel free to read back, and back and back any time you wish!
EDIT: An interesting conversation went on re: this last entry over on Ephblog, the Williams alumni blog-meeting space. Read it here.