Hard to believe that it's been a month since I posted anything! But even harder to believe than that is the fact that another summer break is over, and the new school year is beginning. Last Wednesday we returned for our in-service days, last night was our "Meet the Teacher" night, and tomorrow the kids will be returning to the classroom. This will be my twenty-fourth year teaching here at Greenville Christian School, and as I think about the coming year, I can't help but be excited!
As we were sitting in one of our meetings this week, and our new headmaster was talking about his vision for the school, my mind began to wander (OK, let me say this first of all, this is NO reflection on Mr. Reisner. Being as ADHD as I am, my mind is a migratory beast - imagine, if you will, a wildebeest on methamphetamines! That's my brain, minus the drugs of course - it is this great shaggy mental beast bouncing around like a ping pong ball in a drier. But I digress. Of course, that's kind of the point of this whole parenthetical essay, isn't it? Speaking of which, I need to close these parentheses soon. Let me see if I can locate my original train of thought. There it is. Swinging aboard with one leg, climbing back in, and . . .) back to my very first year at GCS. It was the fall of 1996, and I was looking for a new job, since the new director of the Museum where I was working had apparently decided that she didn't want me there and was going out of her way to make my life miserable. It was August, and options were limited. My dream was to teach college classes full time, but a four year university wouldn't touch me without a PhD, and while junior colleges were fine with me as an adjunct, full time positions were few and far between!
Then one of our friends suggested that I look into the Christian School here in town. I knew very little about the place other than its existence, and I also knew classes were going to start any day, so I looked up the number in the local phone book (kids, ask your parents what a "phone book" is), then said a prayer and called. The secretary, Lori Roberts, answered, and as I recall, my introduction went something like this:
"Hi, I'm Lewis Smith, and I know it's really kind of late in the summer, but I was wondering if you had any teaching positions still open, preferably full time?"
She responded: "Well, actually, we do have one three quarter time position left open, and I won't say we're desperate, but at the same time, classes start back in one week and we really need a history teacher!"
I won't say I heard angels singing, but I won't say I didn't, either. I do remember taking a VERY deep breath and saying: "Well, I have a bachelor's and master's degree in history, I've taught college classes as a TA, and I've been a Director of Education here at the museum for the last two years."
She said: "Come down and apply, please!" and I did.
So I went in and had an hour long conversation with the headmaster, Glenn Slater, who, as it turned out, had taught history there for twelve years - AND got his bachelor's and master's degrees from the same university, same department, and same professors (mostly) that I did! When I told him I had a letter of recommendation from Dr. Robin Rudoff, I think that may have cinched it - I didn't know it at the time, but Dr. Rudoff very rarely gave out such letters, and he had been my thesis advisor and had served on Mr. Slater's thesis committee. So, I filled out the application Wednesday night, met with the headmaster on Thursday morning, was interviewed by a hiring committee on Friday night, and then was told Saturday morning that I'd gotten the job! I took great delight in writing my letter of resignation to the Museum Director (I didn't really burn the bridge there, OK, but I may have poured a wee smidge of gasoline on it - I was VERY unhappy in that job!) that day, and then on Monday morning I showed up for work. Two days later the kids showed up, and by spring I was in love with my job and with my students.
It's now the fall of 2019. Tomorrow the doors will open and the kids will come pouring in, and my annual war on ignorance will commence. Three classrooms I've taught in, six headmasters I've served under, a couple thousand kids I've taught (at least!). We've been through cricket infestations, a water snake in the library (I did NOT put him there, OK, I just caught him and released him!), the exciting discovery of a mosasaur skull, the escape and recapture of my corn snake Napoleon (yes, that one IS on me!) a LOT of April Fool's pranks, countless papers graded, essays read, lectures given, chapel messages preached, as each and every day I try to inspire in my kids a love of history and learning.
I know some people hate their jobs and find them a constant source of stress and aggravation. I sympathize, but I cannot empathize. My work is fulfilling, it is important, and it has eternal consequences. For you see, I don't just teach my kids about the fascinating and sometimes bizarre history of the human race. I teach them eternal truths about God, and man, and our place in HIS wonderful world. I do my best to live out my faith before these students in such a way that they will want to share it. We pray together, we read the Bible together, we laugh together, and we cry together sometimes. We are a family. GCS is my home, and my students are more than just my students - they are MY KIDS, and I love them.
Can tomorrow just get here already?????