It’s August 14th and a most beautiful summer morning. I don’t have that anxious “Oh no! Summer’s about to end feeling.” I won the lottery of free time when I retired from teaching in Camden in June. Grinning, grinning, grinning.
My daughter is busy on her laptop–searching for flag and map decorations for her classroom that will engage, educate and entertain her students–and meet the Common Core Standards. Aw. Getting ready for the new year is fun. Watching her brought back years of memories of time, money, love and thought spent in August to prepare for nonstop months of school.
One August, maybe fifteen years ago, I went to school to get things ready and I talked to a veteran teacher, elegant even in jeans and a T-shirt, standing on a wobbly chair stapling her classroom rules poster. I didn’t know her that well because she was a little reserved, but gracious enough. I complimented her on her classroom décor and I held her chair so it would stop moving. She had a big old-fashioned birdcage in her room with a stuffed bird in it and a funny sign. We agreed that the kids liked to see something unexpected in the classroom. We said that it was hard to come back after the summer, but getting prepared eased the transition.
She proudly confided, “My son is a teacher now and this will be his second September of teaching.”
“Super” I said, “Did you have any advice for him?”
“I told him to do what I do every August. Buy all new underwear and you’ll feel good the entire school year.”
Loved that… I thought of that every August and followed her advice. I don’t know if it worked the entire year, but all new underwear is a treat.
Camden City teachers are supposed to be there on August 28th. What can I say? Thank you, God, that I was able to retire. No kidding.
This will be my first, my very first “free” September since I was four. Regretfully, I can’t remember it that September of 1954.
My fifth September I went to John S. Read School in North Camden and got to take naps on a towel that I brought from home. I remember smelling the dust on the floor while Miss Dyer read us a story or cut paper napkins into four sections for little hands. I never fell asleep. I mean, it was morning kindergarten. We needed a nap? If I had fallen asleep, I doubt that I would have dreamed that my last “scheduled” September (September of 2013) would have been spent in another Camden City school—Wiggins College Preparatory Laboratory Family School.
I certainly was not lying on the classroom floor that September of 2013. How embarrassing to have to ask the third-grade ESL students to drag me back up! Little did I think that I would retire in June, but by the end of the year, I knew that I wanted time for my family, my friends and myself. It was time.
Fifty-eight years of filled-up Septembers–Read School, Vets, Wilson, Rutgers and then working, always working… I’m not complaining. It was a privilege and a blessing to be able to go to school. I am happy and grateful that I always had a job–I’ve never been independently wealthy. But, oh my, oh my, how delicious it is going to be to have this September off!
I won the lottery for “free” time. But, may I go to the Cherry Hill Mall and buy myself all new underwear?
Written by Marguerite Ferra, grinning, grinning and grinning in Cramer Hill