by an anonymous BAT teacher
Note: This post comes from the one and only art teacher left at a high school with nearly 1500 students. Five years ago, when budget cuts came down in this teacher’s district, there were three art teachers at the school. The district made a decision to save money by cutting the entire high school art department. Student artists organized protests at the school. Parents joined them and "saved" the program. But slowly, over the next 4 years, the program was cut bit by bit, much less dramatically: moving one art teacher to another department and slowly reducing a second art teacher's position until the teacher was finally, fully laid off. Now, only one art teacher remains. This is that teacher's story.
I can’t sleep, my brain won’t quit. I had an anxiety attack again at work today. Our new principal thought an April Fool’s Day prank sending out an email to staff about a special meeting in regards to “budget” developments would be funny. I KNEW it was a joke. I even emailed and asked- then WHAM it hits me. It was five years ago and then it’s yesterday. I really like our new principal. I’m angry at myself for feeling like this, I’m embarrassed.
It’s springtime, time to lose your teaching job. Getting a pink slip and then having to take down the Spring Art Show in a department that has just been broken apart. You have to stay and teach as pieces of your heart are pulled out of your chest- piece by piece. Your students need grief counselors, so do you.
Upset, protests, tears.
You pack up your belongings from the office you spent over 16 years in slowly, where you have spent most of your teaching career. You can’t get away from it because you live in the same small town and everyone asks, “What happened?” over and over again.
You get to relive it over and over again.
It’s springtime when you get to watch your department disappear, things you perfected, nurtured, cultivated, now gone. Dismantled, fractured, and damaged.
It all floods back. It was years ago, and it was yesterday. It was yesterday and now it’s today.
And your heart crumbles a little more, so you get up out of bed again and cry again. To write this down, so you can finally sleep. Releasing all of the crappy hurt feelings, and watch “I Love Lucy” on the television. Lucy is trying to sneak cheese on a plane as a baby. Then she tries to get rid of it by eating it. Another woman on the plane with a real baby freaks out because all of a sudden the baby is gone.
She was a master comedian.
It’s springtime, time to get rid of staff. I was having such a good day today and then it was five years ago, all I wanted to do was leave.
But I had to stay and teach today, just like during Columbine, 911, and Sandy Hook. Just like the spring of 2011, I wanted to just leave, but I had to stay and teach for months with hundreds of students in mourning.
A front row seat to pull some more of your heart apart.
You are alone once again at 3 AM watching “I Love Lucy.”
You are alone in your department with empty rooms. You once had people to talk with and sometimes to argue with. You eat lunch alone, in your empty place, for years, and remember what it was once was. Close friends and bullies gone. There is always good in evil, I’ve seen it again and again. I’ve lived it.
You are up at 3 AM watching Lucille Ball sneaking cheese on a plane as a baby because of a stupid April Fool’s Day joke from someone who really didn’t intend to pull your heart apart again and make those old wounds open up.
Maybe you can say goodbye to those ghosts? Be at peace with it. Let it be. Allow it to be present and not swallow you.
It was years ago and it was today, and “I Love Lucy” is on with 25 lb. of freakin' cheese as a baby on a plane, and I just want to sleep.
All because of a joke, an empty department, and lost pieces of your heart.
I’m writing this down to put it at arms length, so I can let it release to somewhere else. Let it live somewhere else so it doesn’t hurt me, because it was only a joke.
It was only my horrible world five years ago and again today.
I shared it with Lucy and her 25 lb. cheese baby on a plane.