This is the time. This is the place. This is what I thought about as the moments ticked down.
Hours. Minutes. Left. I should be careful about whining too long or too loud since I can remember having a school year that wrapped around on itself. It was called year-round school, because that is what it was. I used to teach at a school that was never completely closed. Okay, at Christmas. And on the Fourth of July. But not a lot in between.
That was because there was such a need for classrooms and teachers that the building to which I had been hired to word as a teacher did not comfortably fit with all those teachers. So we worked in shifts. Two months on, one month on. Because I was a very important piece of this puzzle, the prep teacher, I was able to make my own schedule as far as when I worked and when I was off. To a point. I was encouraged to try and make sure that all the students at the school got at least a taste of what I had to offer: computers. Which got me to thinking: What if I could make sure that all the kids got all the computers I could give them? Wouldn't that be awesome?
I was coming from a job managing a warehouse in which the only days we took off were the ones that UPS did. I was only used to having a couple or three days in a row off work before it was back to the salt mines. The suggestion that I might take a couple weeks off sometime in the middle of the summer seemed completely amenable to me. Summer vacation? Why not? And in the meantime, I could be making a little extra money be effectively substituting for myself. I was now a year-round employee at a year-round school.
And this worked fine for me for those first couple of years. I got a lot of sideways looks from veteran teachers who could not understand how or why I would subject myself to extra time at my job. Not that they didn't take full advantage of my services while I was there. They did not refuse to send their kids to my computer lab when at their appointed time. They never asked if the could drop in and help out. It wasn't exactly a selfish thing. They had been there for the long haul and they were not sure how to comprehend my eagerness to stick around so very much.
Eventually, the magic wore off. So did the year-round thing. The neighborhood changed and the number of teachers employed at my school dwindled to a more rational number, one that fit the number of classrooms or thereabouts. At the time I wondered about the old adage about having fewer perches in a cage for too many canaries. You have to keep tapping the sides of the cage to keep some of them in the air at all times. The solution: more perches or fewer canaries. Our solution was fewer canaries. And now we have even fewer teachers than classrooms because that is the neighborhood in which we live. I can take a whole summer now. Even if it is a shorter version, ending as I write this. But that's okay. This is the time.