Saturday, September 30, 2006

Hugs from God

Every now and then, I feel like God knows that I need a little cheering up. I love how he uses people to give little hugs - just to remind us that he's there, and that he loves us.

This week was a pretty gloomy one at school. We found out early in the week that the school board had grossly overestimated student enrolment for this year. All of a sudden, they found themselves with 1,100 fewer students than they thought they would have. And that meant that there would have to be cuts. Once all the numbers got crunched we learned that we had to cut ESL and resource staffing by 0.6 of a position. That may not sound like much, but it's basically one person, three days a week. It's huge. And it all gets cut from the kids who need it most. Yes, the argument is that, well, there are fewer kids, so it shouldn't make a difference. BUT, it just doesn't work that simply. It still means less support for the kids who need it.

Wednesday, on our professional day, we learned who it was that was going to be cut. It all goes by seniority, so the low (wo)man on the totem pole had to go, and then there would be a big shuffle to get everything covered again. Well that person ended up being one of the other grade 5 teachers at my school. You know, one of the ones who has been SO fabulous with encouraging me, helping me plan, and just basically being one of the most dedicated, enthusiastic, caring teachers I know. Yeah, her. Because she's a classroom teacher and you can't just leave the class teacher-less half the week, the next lowest person would be offered her job.

It all got very complex, but basically, the second lowest teacher, B - who has been running an absolutely fantastic life skills class for a number of special needs students - declined the piecemeal job of the other grade 5 teacher, P. Thankfully it means that P gets to stay, but it also means that B has to leave the school and take a permanent subbing job (she gets her wage still, but never knows where she'll be from day to day). It sucks sucks sucks that she has to leave. She, too, is such a dedicated person, and has been at our school (part time, hence the low seniority) for ages.

Everybody is really glum, and worried about how the ESL and learning assistance program will look now. Oh, and the piddly version of a music "program" that they were going to do for the intermediates (mandatory intermediate choir once a week)? That got cancelled cause of this whole kerfuffle, too. Super. We even cancelled our back to school social on Friday. Nobody feels like a party right now.

Anyway, that's been the climate at work this past week. Total suckage. It's brought up squabbles about all kinds of things - people are stressed out - and union vs HR debates and all kinds of yucky stuff, the biggest of which is B having to leave the school.

Needless to say, I was feeling pretty bummed on Thursday when I was leaving work. It was early evening, so most of the kids had gone home. But as I was walking to my car, I saw a little girl who was in one of my French music classes last year. She's in grade 4 this year, so she's what, nine? She smiled and me and said hello. In French, she asked me how my grade 5 class was this year, and did I like my new job. I told her I did, but that I missed teaching music, too. We talked for a few minutes and she told me all about her violin - she had joined strings this year, about her new teacher, about her summer. Then she told me that she missed having me as a music teacher. Aw!

It was such a little thing - just a cute little conversation with a former student, but it was so nice to have that little interaction. Among all the yuckiness, it was a total highlight of my week.

God knew I needed a hug and he gave me one in the form of a little girl named Jessica.

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