Teacher in-service began this past Wednesday and we’ll welcome students next week. I’m not exactly sure what happened to summer break. I know I had one, but it was so quick that I’m struggling to believe it really happened. We are moving into a new school building, so the last few days teachers have been busy unpacking boxes, rearranging desks and tables, decorating walls, attending meetings, and making phone calls to locate classroom phones, printers, and projectors. I went from working in a school that had only two hallways to what feels like a complicated labyrinth. This afternoon I entered through a new-to-me doorway and found myself in an unfamiliar hallway. I had no idea what wing I was in or even what floor I was on. Luckily, instead of having to battle a Minotaur, I found a teacher who was able to lead me to a familiar hallway. I left 15 minutes early for a meeting today because I knew I needed time to find the correct conference room. We used to only have one conference room to having about ten.
I enjoy the people that I work with, but if someone doesn’t teach on my floor and my end of the hallway, I have never had an opportunity to really get to know them. I often joke that the entire upper level could skip work for a month, and I’d never know.
Today we had a meeting at 8:00 am, which is actually a little late for us. We were given instructions yesterday to bring a tangible object of something that was important to us. If it was a picture, it couldn’t be on our phone, it had to be printed. An activity like this is not a strength of mine. I tend to forget all about it, and when I remember at the last minute I don’t have time to put a lot of thought into it and then I think of about 12,000 things I could have talked about.
I walked into our new cafeteria and saw all the chairs were in a circle. For the next 2 1/2 hours a microphone was passed around as people shared pictures of their families, rings given to them by their grandparents, teddy bears given when an adoption was final, baseball cards, a handmade lighthouse, a DVD given by a beloved brother, the Bible to represent a person’s faith, and many other items that offered a small glimpse into the lives of my co-workers. There were many tears shed as people shared about relatives that have passed away, but greatly impacted lives.
This time, I did put thought into what I would share. It wasn’t super profound, but I brought my $0.49 coffee cup that I purchased at Big Lots about fifteen years ago. I have three of the exact same cup. I think at one point there were four, but I vaguely remember breaking one of them. In thinking about what I feel like represents me, I thought of my green coffee cups. Every morning when I’m reading the Bible and praying, I drink coffee out of one of those cups. I then take it to school and drink out of it as I teach middle school kids because I don’t really like to drink out of travel mugs. When family and friends come to my house and we spend time together, I typically make coffee and I always choose one of my green cup if one is available. When I sit down to read or to write, I usually make coffee because a part of me thinks, “This will go better if I have something warm to drink.” And it does.
In a few days, my green cup and I will face our fourteenth first day of school. The years have passed quickly and pleasantly with my green coffee cup.