Today’s Five for Fraturday is being delayed. It might become a Five for Frunday or become next week’s Five for Fraturday. I don’t know. I can’t think that far ahead.
This is not supposed to be a sad post. And I didn’t even think I would write a post about it.
But. The words came. And once the words come, I have to write them down.
On Monday, after school, we had an emergency staff meeting. Whenever we have an emergency staff meeting, the news is never good.
Our current principal, along with an important person from our district, and the district counselor, informed us that our former principal had died suddenly.
My former principal was my principal for ten years. That’s a very long time to have a principal at a school in my district. But it’s true. She was our principal for ten years.
When I first started teaching in another district, I had a new principal every year for the four years I was there. Then I had the principal who hired me at my current school for two years. And then we got her – my principal for ten years.
She was quirky and funny and brilliant. She was raising her grandson. Which explains her character in one easy sentence.
She could drive me crazy, make me laugh, make me roll my eyes, and make me feel like the greatest teacher that ever lived. Because she would tell me and tell the parents in every SST or IEP that little Mrs. Oldham could get their child to succeed. That they were lucky they had me. That they didn’t need to worry. Little Mrs. Oldham was going to do this. I’ve blogged about her calling me Little Mrs. Oldham several times before. It drove me nuts, but I also secretly liked it.
She was bilingual and when she would start speaking Spanish (fluently), you had to sit up straight and just watch because it came from out of nowhere and you always seemed to forget that she could do it.
She had her PHD so she wasn’t a Mrs. She was a Dr. I never ever ever ever called her by her first name. Some people did, but not me. To me, she was always always always Dr.
She was so smart that the title fit. Some of the words she said during our staff meetings made the rest of us crinkle our brows and look at one another all confused-like. She had some favorite words that she used a lot so then we would look them up because we knew they were important. Once, we secretly played Bingo at a staff development day. The words on the Bingo card were the big vocabulary words that she used. Ha!
When I was first diagnosed with my heart condition, I told very few people at my school. My parents said I should let my administration know so I did. She was extremely supportive, as well as my assistant principal. Well . . . after having Winter Break and being in the hospital for an angiogram and a what’s next plan as we tried to get my heart function up, I returned to school. Steve had gone out of town for business and I had had a hard night the night before (the kind where I call my mom as if I’m ten years old and I’m crying on the phone and she can’t understand me, but somehow she figures out what I’m saying and then we pray together) and probably shouldn’t have gone to school. But I did.
I shouldn’t have, as my mom told me on the phone, but I did. And I had a very bad heart episode before school even started. I had to wear a heart rate monitor and keep my heart rate below a certain number and it was way past that number and I was dizzy and I wanted to faint and I WAS A MESS. Because God is so good, my friend across the way just happened to stop by my room to say hi to me and once she saw me (I was a blubbering mess), she sprang into action. The next thing I knew, I had a sub for the day, the assistant principal was sitting with me, holding my hand, and then my principal came. My principal wanted to call 911, but I wouldn’t let her. I was so concerned that people and parents (this was before we had a closed campus and parents were everywhere every morning) were going to see me and ask questions . . . and no one knew. I didn’t want anyone to know that I was “sick” and couldn’t do my job. In my head, I had a reputation to uphold.
My principal escorted me from my room to the office like a champ. She put her arm around me and basically shielded me from anyone’s eyes. She talked to me the entire way and although I don’t remember anything specific that she said, I know that she made me laugh and I wasn’t embarrassed. Her body language was such that no one approached us as we made our way to the office.
Once, I had an SST meeting for a student and I completely and 100% dropped the ball with the paperwork. As in, I didn’t fill out the paperwork at all. AT ALL. I didn’t even have a folder. It was another one of these types of moments.
Well, my principal and I were sitting in the meeting with the parents and our Resource teacher, and she asked me for the paperwork. And I’m sure I looked like a deer in headlights because that’s when I remembered I didn’t have the paperwork. That’s when I realized I didn’t even have a folder.
My principal somehow found paperwork and began filling it out while simultaneously running the meeting. She made eye contact with me, winked, and that was it. She covered for me. She passed the papers to me, I finished my part while she ran the meeting, and that was it. She never even spoke to me about it afterward. She made me look prepared and organized in front of those parents and our Resource teacher.
Sometimes, though, she would eat her lunch during SST and IEP meetings. It’s making me laugh as I think of it now, but I was always thinking hello? We hear you crunching. And I was also always thinking hey! I’m hungry! Are you going to share?
Those are just a couple of stories so you can kind of get a picture of who she was. It’s hard to put ten years of seeing someone every day into words. All of the good mornings, and have a great weekends, and the complaints and frustrations, and the funny stuff, and the tedious stuff, and just the normal day to day stuff into words.
It’s just so shocking that she’s gone.
I can’t stop thinking about her family. So I’m praying for them all the time.
Her memorial service is today.
So it’s not that happy of a Saturday.
But here I go anyway.