Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 23 2010

The Longest Day

Though I’m sure I’ll have more and more days to triumph in struggle over this one, today has been my most taxing day I’ve had as a CM. Surprisingly, it has nothing (or very little) to do with the fact that it was my first day teaching an actual lesson.

I have eleven students in my 5th grade classroom, and I start summer school as a math teacher. Today I was impressed simply with my ability to get through the material once (sorry, TFA, no 2/3s pure practice for room 115 today…) and that my students had a dramatic improvement in their behavior on their way to lunch. My struggle came after this.

New friend Ben and I both are hired in Dumas, AR and both are lacking Social Secuirty Cards and are both teaching summer school at Levee-Bowl Academy. Fortunate coincidence. All summer I’ve been keeping my passport in a special place, because I know it will be important for hiring. Yesterday I had to make a copy of it for my Dumas application, no problem. This morning: no passport to be found. I checked my room twice, went to school, checked again, then went with Ben to the social security office anyway. They told me I had to find it for a new Social Security Card. I was disheartened. Today was literally the only day of institute in which I got out of school early enough to make it to this office before it closes at 4:30.

As soon as I got back into my room, I found my passport in the bottom of one (of three) teacher bag that I had with me at the office. I was relieved but also incredibly frustrated. I promptly sealed it up with my application and mailed it to the office. There is no other way to get a new card, I have to mail my physical passport. This makes me nervous.

On the way to the office Ben and I were talking about all the formal things we had to fill out for our application, one of which being beneficiaries for a meager retirement sum, should we die while working. After explaining I listed my brother, sister, and dad Ben harmlessly asks, “Leaving your mom outta there?” to which I had to explain well, yes, because she passed away last year.

Last year? Has it really almost been a calendar year? One of the hardest, if not the hardest, thing about moving to the Delta and becoming a TFA corps member is the fact that now I have a brand new identity, an incredibly significant new era in my life in which I will be motherless for its entirety. My mom (though surely peeking from wherever she is) will never know me as a teacher.

When she first died, Auntie Sally told me that grief comes like waves, with intensities and at times you can never predict. Today was a day where a wave crashed down on me, and all I could do was cry on the phone to my sister until I felt more calm.

Which did happen. I now sit, ready to finish grading my class’s ISAT pre-test with my entire dorm silent. There’s something about the middle of the night that makes me want to never ever sleep. Give me 2pm and I’ll sleep for hours, but 2am is precious to me. It’s genuinely difficult for me to not be awake at this hour. I guess that makes it just fine that there’s still more work to be done. ;)

3 Responses

  1. Dena

    Oh, I just want to give you a big ginormous hug! You are so incredibly strong and we are all so proud of you. Your mom is definitely looking down on you and I am sure she is beaming with pride. I hope today is less of a roller coaster ride for you and that your passport makes it safe and sound. Love n hugs from Lansing!

  2. Cindy

    Caroline, my heart goes out to you – I only met your Mom one time, and I recall her as gracious and kind and crazy about you. Hope the love of all your friends helps.

  3. mariagarnett

    your blog inspires me! i’m a 2010 bay area cm. our first day of school is tuesday. keep up the good work! i have a feeling your mom is in the classroom with you every day :)

Post a comment