Last week, we looked around and realized we’d made it through. We’d survived 180 late late-night work sessions, 180 early mornings with our darling girl, and 180 stressful days of teaching. Yes, we’re still transitioning into our new “summer lives.” It hasn’t been as easy as we thought it would be, as things have been unusually busy around here: we’ve had bachelor parties to attend, guests to host, and contractors hanging around the house… and our family was hit with the stomach flu, as Kelly’s talked about. But man; it feels fantastic to be on break. Before we party, though, I’d like to thank today’s sponsor, Häagen-Dazs® Ice Cream, for helping us celebrate one of my proudest achievements: 10 years of inner-city public school teaching!
A sense of accomplishment
While there have been a lot of ups and downs, I’m extremely proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish over the past decade in the classroom. A DECADE?! Good lord, that makes me sound old. But teaching is a difficult job and I honestly can’t believe that I’ve survived this long.
Kelly and I often joke that the experience of teaching is much that of Sisyphus, this mythological Greek guy who was sentenced to pushing a boulder up a hill for eternity, only to watch it roll right back down and smack him in the face. Every. Single. Time. In this analogy, summer break is that gleeful moment of placing the boulder atop the hill, but September… well, I don’t really want to talk about September right now.
The 10-year mark
My path to teaching was unconventional. In college, I volunteered as a Special Olympics coach and absolutely fell in love with the work. Soon, I was spending most of my free time doing therapeutic recreational activities with special needs groups. When I graduated and started applying to business jobs, I found myself talking mostly about special recreation in the interviews, and in a moment of panic before accepting my first job offer, I freaked out and applied to the New York City Teaching Fellows, a program that trained teachers in a few weeks and then placed them in hard-to-staff schools in NYC.
Teaching had the perfect mix of qualities I wanted in a job. It was intellectually challenging, it was constantly changing, and it was beyond rewarding. I was able to help people through my profession. In the Bronx, I almost didn’t think of myself as a teacher. Yes, I spent most of my days teaching, and I took it very seriously. But my students needed so much social and emotional help that the required curriculum content almost came second.
Let’s get back to some of those ups and downs. Though let’s reverse them, as that’s far more positive. ;)
- My first experience of true mayhem in my first year of teaching. Kelly’s written about this before, but our students lit their assignment on fire and it wasn’t good.
- Finding a dead body floating in the East River while on a field trip.
- Becoming a skilled “hallway fight-breaker-upper.”
- Watching our school in the Bronx become the only school forced to close in the state of New York just a few days ago.
- Forming meaningful relationships with my students and (hopefully) changing their lives for the better.
- Meeting a preppy blonde English teacher… and, after three years of walking around New York together, marrying her.
- Learning the skills necessary to prepare and deliver thousands of lessons to students, and prepare those students for high school.
- Earning my masters degree after dragging myself to class night after night for three years.
- Leaving the Bronx for Chicago, and embracing the challenge of working at a smaller school.
I can’t say I’ve loved every minute of it, but again, I’m proud and grateful for the life-changing experience.
Summer break as a teacher
So far, my entire life (starting at age three) has been spent as either a student or a teacher. I know of no other situation! In my experience, though, summer break as an adult is even sweeter than it is as a kid. Especially now that I have a daughter to spend it with. Today, Emma and I are going to spend a few hours at the park and then maybe take a nap together. Not a bad gig!
At the end of every summer day, Kelly and I start to think about ice cream. If we’re in Chicago, we make our way to any number of ice cream stands or Italian ice joints. And if we’re down the Shore, we head to the boardwalk and stand in line with hundreds of others with the same idea. It’s the best.
Lately, though, Kelly and I have found the perfect way to reward ourselves after a wonderfully long summer’s day. Our absolute favorite ice cream is a carton of Häagen-Dazs at the Walgreens around the corner. Kelly’s favorite flavor is vanilla—who knew vanilla could be so good?!—and mine is coffee… because I’m addicted. So now, instead of walking halfway across the city to wait in line for a cone, we can load up on Häagen-Dazs on our front stoop, on a picnic blanket, or on the couch. Most ice cream brands you’ll find in the grocery store are filled with chemicals, fillers and congealing agents. But Häagen-Dazs flavors, like Vanilla, have only five simple and recognizable ingredients: milk, eggs, cream, sugar and vanilla. This is the kind of ice cream you’d make at home if you knew how to make extremely good ice cream! The best part? You can get this incredible stuff for way less than it would cost at the local ice cream parlor. Imagine that.
Right now, Walgreens is offering a buy-one-get-one offer on Häagen-Dazs from July 2nd through 8th and July 23rd through 29th. Click below to enter the Häagen-Dazs at Walgreens #HDMoment Sweepstakes for a chance to win some pretty amazing prizes as well as a $50 Walgreens gift card, which I’d obviously use to buy a ton of ice cream.
Häagen-Dazs has given me the perfect opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the achievement of finishing out another school year. While the Sisyphean boulder is probably just starting its roll back down the mountain, I’m going to go ahead and grab another bowl of ice cream, and relish in these little moments with my family. :)
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Walgreens. The opinions and text are all mine.