Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The End of KASA

My co-teacher is having a baby next week.  I couldn't be happier for her - she's already a great, dedicated mom to a bubbly 5 year old girl.  Her last day is Friday, and she's been a trooper - if it weren't for the round beach ball of a belly that she carries in front of her these days, I may not even know that she's pregnant.

Wendy has always made things look easy.  At times, she has even tricked me into believing that teaching is easy.  When we are asked to do some new task for work, I groan, and she says, 'no problem, easy.'

I've been working as her partner teacher for three years.  My last name is Klein, and hers is Santana.  We decided to call our class (804) by the name KASA - Klein and Santana Academy.  This name has the great phonetic resonance of 'casa', which means house in Spanish.  In the wild world of numbers that New York City is, we went from being class 804 at I.S. 217 on 163rd in the 12th district, to just being KASA.

As one half of KASA, I have grown up, become more professional, more competent, more level headed.  I've learned every day from this woman who is so different from me in so many ways, but who sees the world through eyes that I understand.  In a job where each day can be unpredictable and wild, and can make you feel crazy, she's the one who has reminded me that I'm sane.

I could go on all day about how wonderful Wendy is, and what a gift it has been for me to have met her, and worked so closely with her.  Suffice it to say that my excitement for her is tempered slightly by my grief over the loss of this wonderful partnership.  Friday is the last day that KASA will really exist, as next year I won't be returning to this school.  So these are the last days that I will have working with Wendy.

It's an enormous loss for me, but also one for my students.  Wendy's instincts are so strong, her insights so clear.  She looks at a struggling student and sees things that I don't.  She remembers to take a breath and speak calmly when she's enraged.  She knows when to walk away from a conflict with a child.  After three years, I've learned a lot, but I still find my eyes drifting towards her for affirmation that my lesson is strong and clear, or for guidance on how to respond to a kid who is challenging me.

I know that I can stand on my own two feet - I don't need her the way that I did at the beginning.  I've learned enough to go forward on my own - and to reduce my hysterics, I must remind myself that it's really only for a month.  School ends June 27th.

But it feels like the end of an era to have her leave - I am propelled forward into the next stage of my life prematurely (and also years later than I'd planned).  I find myself worried about teaching without her, when I know that I don't need to be.

This was a part of my life that I didn't plan on.  I titled this blog, 'prelife', because it felt like I was still waiting for my life to begin - killing time while it figured out what it was going to be.  I figured that after my two years of teaching, the next step would present itself to me, and that I could have growth and meaningful life experiences while I waited.

But life crept in.  In my time here, amidst all of the terrible hard, painful days that I wouldn't wish on anyone, there has also been friendship and love.  I met my wonderful husband here, and made several friends that I'll always have.

Next week, Wendy won't be here, and each day will feel different.  It will be fine, but it's will feel like I'm passing time, getting through a strange patch.  It won't feel real.

Together, Wendy and I created KASA, to give the kids a 'house' in the school.  And somehow, my messy desk in my dingy, stuffy classroom, cluttered with four years worth of student work, and excess copies, became a kind of home to me.  And when she leaves, an important half of that goes too.

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