Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 01 2012

Angels and miracles.

This morning I woke up after four hours of sleep, awake. I’m rarely awake when I wake up, but I was practically laughing. Five am, I’m clicking away, putting in grades, thinking about my lacking lesson plans. Antsy from the weekend, I emailed my sisters about my anxiety then hopped into my running shoes.

5k at six am, anyone? Haven’t done that in a while, but good God was it what I needed. Hip hop Pandora station, I didn’t even touch my lesson plans, just got my Do Nows and homeworks together, then ran across Dumas in the hazy dawn. The kind of run that pulls you forward. Not that it wasn’t work, but my brain was so full the only way I could make space for my day was by pounding some of it into the pavement: past the post office, around the girls’ house, in some lop-sided figure-eight.

It was the anxiety, propelling me, flying me through the gray. Somehow I felt like my life had ceased being my own. I can’t remember the last time I spent a weekend night in Dumas, can’t remember the last time I sat and really concretely planned out my week, can’t remember my last commitment that really held me accountable. Instead I’ve been swimming in a social life (not even kidding! it IS possible!), wondering how to re-immerse myself in being a twenty-something.

It was the anxiety, too, that made me put on this necklace. I used to wear a bee every day, one that sister gave me, that calmed and protected me, that everyone loved. My students know it’s from my sister, that it helps me feel calm about my mother’s absence, that it means everything to me.

I lost it.

So today, digging through what jewelry I have here, I found the guardian angel necklace my dad gave me for Christmas. I’ll be straight with you: I hated it when I got it. It looks like something a conservative grandmother might wear on a broach, and it’s totes not my style. Today, though, anxiety and fear reigning, I giggled as I looped it around my neck. Remembered my aunt telling me the protection that comes from circles: rings, bracelets, necklaces.

The sixth grade talent show is Friday, with a dress rehearsal Wednesday, both during school. I’ve been freaked out that I’m not doing enough, that my kids are messes, that no one understands “stage presence” or “rehearsal” or “showing up to something you committed to”. Also been freaked out that our stage wouldn’t show up, that we would have no PA or mics for the singers, that the lighting would be weird and my kids would, frankly, embarrass me.

School, 8:00am. Students are walking in. Lisa comes up to me with a giant poster board flopping around. “Where can I put this?”

“What is that?”

“A talent show poster!”

My students spent their weekend making more advertisements for the show. Posters had cut and glued construction paper all over. The performers names and acts written in marker across bright colors. All of this!

School, 8:10am. My students have just left for block and I’m setting up my smartboard with the day’s lesson. In walks Mr. W, a man I am in awe of. He coaches my girls’ basketball teams, sings in the church I visited for friends & family day two weeks ago, subs in our schools, and if rumors are true is an ex-military man. As our talent show meeting started up last Thursday, he suddenly arrived in my room and stayed until 5pm, helping me coach and control all the kids. As I’m flitting about my room, too much coffee already ingested, he says, “You still need a drum set?”

My heart explodes on the spot. “A drum kit? You can get us one?”

He’s good at dramatic effect, just stares at me for a minute with a half-smile. “Yeah, we’re seeing what we can do.” We being his church.

“You know it will mean so much to Austin if he can play on a whole set. You are so amazing! Thank you so much!” I’m spilling over with gratitude. He nods slightly at me, pauses. “…you all have a PA or anything?”

MY HEART EXPLODES AGAIN. I have been emailing and calling the junior high music teacher, desperate to get my hands on her PA for the past two weeks, to no avail. In fact, I’ve been downright terrified about the lack of a PA. What if no one can hear my singers? What if my dancers have no music to dance to?

“You’re kidding. Are you my miracle today or what? Your church can help us with that, too?”

“Well, we’ll see. I just thought you might need it.” I gush for another five minutes, Mr. W leaves, hopefully with full understanding that I AM DYING OF GRATITUDE.

School, 8:30am. My kids come back from block in ten minutes. The secretary comes into my room, “Mr. C called, he wants to know where you want the stage. He’s on his way.”


Mr. C promised me the stage two weeks ago, but I wasn’t sure about logistics. Five minutes later, literally, two of my students’ parents and a third man I’ve never met were unloading a three-piece 9′ x 12′ stage with stairs into our gym. I thought I was going to die.

School, 3:10. After a stressful day, a talent show rehearsal is the absolute last thing I want to do. I tell my kids I need a five minute break and escape to the teachers’ lounge for a honey bun. My vice principal offers to get his speakers from home for us to use. Gets them, brings them back. I rally the kids and take them to the gym.

There unfolds our first with-stage rehearsal. I am floored, absolutely floored. When I was in drama in high school I always new I’d want to be a director, that I love doing that kind of thing– staging and blocking, making logistics decisions, organizing. This is the closest I’ll get, but I love it. My kids are hysterical, talented, and confident. They’re down for anything, follow directions, and stayed until 6:30, only leaving after their repeated begs of “Can we please do it just one more time?” are turned down. Parents have started commenting that I’m stealing their kids away.

All I can think with each step of this is how much better it will be next year…

And it goes without saying this necklace ain’t coming off for a long while.

2 Responses

  1. Best.

  2. els

    I’m jealous.

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