As many of you know, I've worked in a middle school for the past 3 years. It was actually my friend Cheri (the principal of the school) who gave me my job. A few years ago, when the person who was in my position retired, I remember Cheri mentioning to me, "Do you want to move to Florida? I have a job that I think you'd be great at!" At the time I laughed because I had no intentions of moving to Florida.
Fast forward. Divorce, no job, need medical insurance for my kids . . . "You remember that job you mentioned a while back? It's not still available, is it?"
Which brings us to now. Here in Orange County, they like to arbitrarily move administration around every few years. It's kind of like the Methodist Church. Just when you get used to your pastor, they yank him away and give you someone new. So Cheri has been at the school for 5 years. Every year that she's been there, the school has attained academic gains. It's an "A" school (they give schools grades down here based on how kids do on the almighty FCAT.) She finally has all the programs in place, a staff and faculty that she likes, and everything set so that the school can function at its best and the students can be successful.
She just received the call that they're transferring her to another school. And not just another school, but a middle school in the "hood." It's an "F" school. Only 35% of its students are reading at grade level. The breakdown of students is about 85% black, 14% Hispanic, and 1% white, and 100% of its students receive free breakfast and lunch.
When Cheri told me she'd been transferred there, she immediately followed it with a request, "Come with me?" I couldn't give her an answer. The thought of moving, and moving to this school in particular, scared the snot out of me. I'm a list person so I made a list of pros and cons.
PROS FOR STAYING
I like my classroom. I just painted it, decorated it, and got a comfy chair!
I know what I'm doing finally, after 3 years. I've got it down now.
I know all the teachers and their assignments so it's easy to help the kids.
I don't have to worry about getting caught in gang crossfire on the way to work.
I'd miss everyone from my current school.
If I leave, I'll miss out on the "A" School bonus (over $1000!)
There's no Dunkin Donuts on the way to the new school!
PROS FOR MOVING
I'd still be with Cheri who is a great principal.
If I ever need to leave early or take a day off for a sick kid, there's never any problem at all.
The new principal could come in and be a real jerk.
The new principal could do away with my position altogether.
I'll never run out of material should I choose to write a book about how we improved this "F" school.
The campus is new and surprisingly beautiful, and definitely more secure than my current school.
It would be a chance to make a big difference.
After I made my list, I still couldn't decide. Days and then weeks went by. Meanwhile, every time I talked to Cheri, she oozed excitement. She has jumped in headfirst and is taking on this challenge with gusto. I know if anyone can turn that school around, she can. Her excitement is contagious. While talking to her, I found myself saying things like, "So where would my classroom be? What exactly would I be doing? Is there a good security officer there? Who else is coming to this school with us?" I was speaking as if I'd made up my mind to go. That's when I realized that I'd made up my mind to go.
I'm scared. And excited. And did I mention scared?