So Close

Now that I've had a few days to process the latest events in my life, I'm ready to write about it. Many of you are aware that last spring, I was chosen by my school family to represent our school as the 2010-11 Teacher of the Year. As a part of the process, all TOYs from each school submit an application to be judged. This application ends up being about 15 pages long when complete and addresses a range of topics from your philosophy of teaching to what your message would be if you won Greenville County Teacher of the Year. Applications were due on February 1st and honestly, I didn't think about it again. Life happened, we took the 4th and 5th grades to DC and Spring Break was mixed in, so I had other things occupying my thoughts. The first day we were back to school after Spring Break, I noticed in my peripheral vision that I had people standing in the door to my room. My administrative team and a dear friend wanted to know if I had checked my email yet. As those of you who are teachers know, many days, that doesn't get done until the end of the day. Apparently, I had made it into the Top 10 out of 4000+ teachers in our district. I was overwhelmed and honored that this had happened.
The next steps were to happen in the beginning of May - classroom observations, video interviews, panel interviews, etc. Over the course of the next few weeks, I planned exactly what I wanted to teach that would give my judges the best picture of me. What I planned I had already planned to do, so I wasn't doing anything that was foreign, I just moved it in my schedule a bit. I was given a window of 2 days for my observations - a Monday and a Tuesday. I prayed that the judges wouldn't show up on Monday morning, and they didn't. They didn't show up Monday afternoon either. Tuesday morning I had planning until 10:00 AM, so I thought, surely they would come before lunch. Nope! Lunch and recess occurred, still no judges. At 1:30, the very end of the day, they finally arrived. I think they were lost. My dear friend, Laura, had told me, they will come in and observe and leave. They won't even talk to you. Well, just the opposite happened. I had 6 people arrive, watch a lesson, and then get up and peruse the room. They looked at EVERYTHING - every book title, my student work, the photographs on the wall. They talked to students, asked them questions, tried out our Witt Fitt balls, and then started talking to me. It rattled me, but I powered through.

After the observation on Tuesday, I was scheduled for video interviews and panel interviews on Thursday afternoon. I was asked 6 questions in the panel interview and walked out feeling very confident in my answers. My instructional coach, principal, and teaching partners agreed that I rocked the interview.

Summer came. The announcement would come August 11th at the TOY breakfast. As the days ticked off the calendar, the more nervous I became. I had to prepare a speech just in case. I rewrote it 10 times before I was satisfied, but I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to read it or remember it if I was in fact the winner. The week of the breakfast, I didn't sleep. Only a few hours here and there. I didn't eat much. I wanted it to be over, for someone to slip up and tell me so I could relax. That didn't happen.
The morning of the breakfast, I woke up at 5:30. I was calm. Cheney and I stopped at Dunkin' Donuts for my coffee because I didn't think I could eat. We arrived at the Carolina First Center at 7:40 am. People began crowding in, minutes ticked on. I had packed my table with those who meant the most to me in my teaching career. The only ones missing were my parents. Dr. Fisher called the Top 10 up to receive a gift bag of prizes. She sent us back to our seat. Part of me just wish she would have announced the winner at that moment. Maybe she was afraid that someone would pull a Joey from Friends.
When we returned to our seats, a video was shown of all 10 teachers in their classrooms. Shelby, our yellow lab, made my section. I sure hope I don't get in trouble for that one.

Dr. Fisher announced 3rd Runner Up - my stomach lurched. She announced 2nd runner up - I began to get queasy. She announced 1st runner up - and I heard my name. I think I felt relieved that I wouldn't have to speak, but I was a bit disappointed. That's why it's taken me an entire week to write about it.

Today, almost a week later, I think I received a pretty good deal. First runner up still gets a monetary prize! Woo Hoo! I still get recognition. I get to work with my dear friend Laura on Teacher Forum, but I don't have to leave my classroom as much as the winner. It also freed me up to pursue a few things professionally that I've wanted to for awhile now.

While there are moments of me questioning what did I forget to say, what could I have done better, I'm learning to be satisfied with my position. I mean, 1st runner up out of 4000+ teachers isn't half bad for a girl from Watson, LA.


Shonda said…
That is SO awesome, Shasta! First runner up! Yes, being the winner is the goal, but you worked so hard and you got a great response and I'm so proud of you. Congratulations!!!