I Stood Next to Myself

Today was the faculty meeting in which the Teacher of the Year winner was announced.  No matter how much I told myself that I was happy for whoever won and that I was honored to be nominated (and I really, really was), I was a nervous wreck.

Confession time:  I have wanted this for years.  Ever since I became a teacher, I wanted this.

Stupid confession time:  I think it’s because my brother won Teacher of the Year a bunch of times and I look at him as the pinnacle of perfection.  I wanted to be like my brother.

Last night, it really dawned on me that this was real.  Sure, that epiphany hit me several times in the last two weeks, but I kept on brushing it off and forcing myself to remind myself that normalcy and my students were more important.

But, the gerbils started running last night.  And they ran hard.  It wasn’t that I was obsessing about winning.  I really didn’t think I was going to win.  I had been nominated and, in my world, that was huge!!!

Regardless, I couldn’t sleep.  It didn’t help that Pat got home around 2 in the morning and I woke up needing to go to the bathroom and then went back to the bed only to realize that I was powerfully thirsty so I got back up to drink water and then I got the chorus to “Uptown Funk” in my head.  Hey, I have a ten year old daughter, these things happen.  At least it wasn’t “Let it Go” or “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”

5:20 hit…I’m up before my alarm and coffee is a million miles away from me.  Thankfully, today I had a magnificent guest speaker, Andrew, who came and spoke about his experience with 9/11.  I inhabited a chair and listened to his stories and catalogued them into the recesses of my mind for future classes.  I was so proud of my students, so proud of how they absorbed everything.  One student who usually doesn’t stop paying attention to his cell phone was leaning forward the entire time Andrew was speaking, absolutely captivated.  Yes, this was wonderful indeed.

And then came planning period which I can’t remember too much of except that I delivered the last of the Girl Scout cookies and wrote in my blog because it kept my hands moving and my thoughts away from the faculty meeting.

But the time arrived and I went in, trembling and feeling stupid for trembling.  I was going to lose nothing if I didn’t get it.  I was taking no risks.  But I was literally quivering with anxiety.  This was about as bad as waiting for my parents to wake up on Christmas morning so I could open presents.  Will I get my Western Barbie and her matching horse, Dallas?

My principal was great at stretching out the moments.  She called down each nominee and read a short biography about each person, discussing each person’s qualities, traits, and accomplishments.  Wow, in listening to each person, I knew I had not won.  And that was fine because these people are remarkable and incredible.

My name was called.  My biography read.  I accepted a lovely book that is the philosophy of life according to Peanuts.  Mine encouraged me to Be Unique.  Don’t worry.  That’s a piece of advice I can take any day.

Once everyone was up in the front of the auditorium, I was leaning against the stage and staring at the carpet, practicing my “I’m happy for you” smile because someone else was going to win.

My principal then talked about tallying the votes and I swear I thought my knees were going to fold.  And then she said, “And the 2015 Teacher of the Year is” and I heard Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice….mwah mwah mwah mwah…

And everyone was looking at me.

What?

I swear, I was like a minion on Despicable Me.

WHAT??

My dear friend who told me that I needed to stand by myself was sitting in the front row, her face brilliant with laughter and, dare I say, a trace of tears.  I realized that my name was in those syllables.

I was voted in as Teacher of the Year.

I went forward as my principal lifted this lovely pink hydrangea and, without thought, hugged her.  I love my principal.  She is, by far, the best principal for whom I have ever worked.   And I say this behind her back too, by the way.  She is caring for all students, not just those who bring in awards and scholarships and big numbers.  She cares about all the kids.  I’ve seen her doing Wii aerobics with the special education students and I’ve watched her take the Battle of the Brains kids out for lunch to celebrate their wins.  She wears cheerleader outfits for the Homecoming pep rally and she leads the students through each trial, tribulation, and success.  Don’t tell me that isn’t the makings of a great principal.

After I came out of the embrace, I looked up and, I swear, I was Mulan from Disney’s Mulan when she saves the Emperor in the Forbidden City.  I look to my left and realize that all of my colleagues have risen to their feet and are giving me a standing ovation.  I was over-whelmed, completely and utterly over-whelmed.

For once, I kept my composure long enough to be thoughtful and grateful.  I expressed my thanks and explained how important this was to me.  And this is hugely important to me.  This experience ranks up there with having my kids and marrying my beloved husband.  This ranks up there with going to Disney World with the Girl and helping the Boy buy his new iPod.

For once, my measuring stick is 5 foot 4 inches and a half high.  It’s a bit round in the waistline and it’s personality is a little bit off.

But it fits me very nicely.

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