High School: Downers Grove South P.E./Health/Drivers Ed. Show Undeniable Support For Colleague

I am writing this piece in order to thank a very special group of people in my life…a family away from home of sorts. You see, I am in my final year of teaching, after 34 years, and will be retiring from education at the end of this school year.

My feelings about this retirement thing are, well…somewhat mixed as a large majority of the students I have had the opportunity to work with have been a wonderful, engaged group. However, they are not the only reason for my wavering frame of mind regarding my upcoming transformation into the ranks of later adulthood.

You see…thirty of those thirty-four years of teaching have been at one school, in one department, and I have grown very close to the people with whom I work. Most have been there through the raising of my children (on into adulthood), as have I through the birth and growing years of theirs. We, as a staff, are very open in our conversations about family and life, and ALL are helpful and very supportive of one another, bringing an educator’s (individuals who work with kids) mind to the table when difficulties arise and circumstances are shared.

I don’t know if others in the work force (whether in education or in other fields) have the chance to work with such a great group of co-workers. I am not only lucky but, in all sincerity, truly blessed. From my perspective…there is not a finer, more thoughtful, dedicated, more supportive group of people, of educators, anywhere!!!

This was no less evident than with the surprise I received the morning at our monthly department meeting held the other day. In support of my recently published book, Becoming a True Champion (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012), the whole staff did something completely unexpected, something that truly moved me emotionally.

Arriving to the meeting after most were there and situated, I entered the room expecting nothing out of the ordinary. Normal procedures called for individuals to grab a bagel and/or muffin, have a seat and prepare to discuss what was on the agenda.

However, something WAS different, felt a little off so to speak as it was unusually quiet in the room. My focus, however, was on finding a bagel so the quiet in the room was just a passing thought. I certainly wasn’t very swift to notice the strange yellow shirts my colleagues were wearing.

After a moment or two of hunting for that bagel (which was difficult since today, there were only muffins), I began to scan the room, observing that most everyone had the same yellow shirt on, like 16 of them. Dumbfounded for a second, or two, or three, I thought (maybe even said) “what’s with the yellow shirt” finally noticing that there was this saying on the front of all of them—the same saying. It said “Buy The Book.”

Not being too quick witted in the morning (or quick witted ever according to my colleagues) I thought, and then said, “What book…, (sarcastically) what...you have the name of my book on the back of that shirt?” Several turned around to show me the back of their yellow shirt…it read “Becoming a True Champion…Best,” with their own signature below the word best.

I kind of stood there for a moment, a little dumbfounded, not knowing what to think…let alone say. I was moved by such a kind gesture of support—of their support. Actually, I was a little bit in shock over it all as I had absolutely no idea that they had been planning this for a month, let alone that their "plan" was going to happen in this meeting. Here, take a look:

What they did for me was nothing short of awesome, overwhelming in fact. You would be hard pressed to find a group of people, of colleagues, who would take the time and effort to put something like this together. I must state again, from my perspective…there is not a finer, more thoughtful, dedicated and supportive group of people anywhere!!!

I really don’t know what my life is going to be like without them in it on a regular basis. They are…simply put, the very best kind of friends this world has to offer.

I would like to take this moment to publicly thank them all for their support, encouragement, and advice over the years. What they did this past Tuesday morning…it is something I will never, ever forget. It is difficult to put into words how sincerely appreciative I am of their efforts; I am truly privileged to be able to call them my friends.



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