Thursday, January 17, 2008

Happy Birthday CCE!

Ten years ago on January 20, 1998 I walked through the doors of Chets Creek Elementary as a young and eager Kindergarten teacher ready to christen Room 108 along with my 32 "precious" Phillips' Frogs. I was in the middle of what had certainly been one of the hardest, if not the absolute hardest, years of my career. I had been surplussed from a great school that I loved and was heavily invested in and had the largest, most challenging group of students I had encountered thus far. When I used the word eager earlier - well that really meant scared. I was full of anticipation in regards to my new educational home. Would I fit in? Would the faculty be nice? How would this school run compared to my previous experiences? Would my new principal think I was any good?

I threw myself into the excitement of opening a brand new school. I put myself out there and seized any opportunity to be involved, be a part of what I quickly realized was going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I was given my first professional read, Improving Schools from Within, by Roland Barth. This text is the foundational piece on which the collegial environment of Chets was crafted. We met together as teams - vertical and horizontal. We wrote the first CCE diagnostic and screening students three times a year. We celebrated each others' successes. We embraced a revolutionary new program called America's Choice that served to do nothing short of completely transforming the way we approached teaching and learning. We started new rituals and traditions. We created a learning environment that we would want our own children to attend. We laughed, ate, cried, partied, fought and loved on each other. We became a family.

I have a heart for these children, for each and every one of you - for this most special place. This experience has changed me - it has helped to define my life's work. Little did I know that stepping through those doors that day would be a total life altering experience!

I am FOREVER changed.

Believing is just the beginning...

5 comments:

T-Cubed said...

Susan,

I can totally relate to the "being surplused into terror" trauma. Little did I know that I had actually landed in a unique oasis of adult and child learning. I have not spent all 10 years here, but I continue to marvel at how much I have learned over my eight year hitch.

The people here truly help people become better people, big or little. This place ROCKS.

T-Cubed

Denise said...

Susan,

With this being my first year at Chets, I have shared many of these similar emotions. When you leave something you know, or have experience with, it opens you up to so many other emotions that tend to make you uneasy. Part of this is the chance, and almost certainy, of change and growth within yourself. You feel anxious, nervous, excited, and just want to make sure you succeed in reaching and teaching each child. You want to do all that you do. I have learned that just about all of the uneasy feelings can be subsided by having a family/support system around you. This schools team meetings, professional literature, school meetings, and the atmosphere of williness by all the teachers and parents has given me the support and confidence to believe in myself and in each of my children I teach each day. Knowing you are not alone and that almost every teacher has had a similiar hurdle to jump and is there to coach you over, really makes this school as successful as it is.

Sherrie Anderson said...

Susan,

I can relate!! I have never learned so much or worked so hard as in the last ten years. What a blast we have had!! I have made the best friends ever and I am a better person because of Chets. Thank you for the continued opportunity to touch the lives of our students, friends and families.

Sherrie

Morgan's Mouseketeers said...

I too have grown up with Chets but in a different way. Our church opened the April after the school opened. Being the pastor's daughter ment that I was there when we set up and until we tore down. I lived much of my time there getting ready for our kids to see us on Sundays and Wednesdays. I have come to love Chets Creek. There is no place like Chets and I am honore to officially be a member of the staff to reach kids during the week as well as next door on the weekends.

dayle said...

Since this is our birthday week, it would interesting for all of your readers to share how they came to Chets Creek.

For me, I was invited to join the faculty after things were already started - in the second year of America's Choice. I jumped at the opportunity although most of my friends thought I had lost my mind. Why would somebody of my age want to join a young hip faculty that had a reputation for working too hard? But what I really wanted was to learn... It's true that I have never worked as hard... or learned as much as I have in my years at Chets Creek! Happy birthday, Chets Creek. I don't think I'll have to close my eyes and make a wish when I blow out the birthday candles, because I am living my dream every single day. dayle