on letting go and starting again.

I wrote the first part of this yesterday, and edited it today. This isn’t my typical, lighthearted entry. It’s really long, but it’s an outpouring from my heart.

It’s been over 4 months since I was laid off. That’s 123 days that I’ve harbored bitterness toward Last Chance Academy. 123 days that I haven’t fully forgiven the man who called me and told me that “unfortunately” they “no longer had a position” for me – 2 days after telling me that they were “desperate” to keep me “on board” and that a lot of changes were being made, but I was “definitely” still a part of the team. 123 days that I’ve carried around the insecurity and baggage from feeling like a failure.

Was it a blessing in disguise? Maybe. Probably. I don’t grind my teeth in the middle of the night. I don’t suddenly realize that my facial muscles ache because my jaw has been clenched for who knows how long. I don’t cry multiple times a week. I don’t unleash a fury of emotions on my patient, supportive husband every day. Also, by being laid off, it wasn’t my choice to leave the students. I gave it all I had.

I’m still mad, though. Mad that I was robbed of a chance to properly say goodbye. Mad that they made me carry all my belongings out in front of the whole school while they had a meeting. Mad that I didn’t go over to the students I could hear saying, “Ms. Parton?” Mad that the secretary wished me “all the best”. Mad that they told me one thing and turned around and did another. Mad that one of the teachers proceeded to tell her students that I quit. Mad that I poured so much into my job there – for what?

I’ve processed, analyzed, cried, sorted through feelings, tried to forgive – so now I’m just going to let it go and say goodbye.

Dear Mario M., Andrew, Anthony S., Tawanda, Mario B., Syesha, Sasha, Gabrielle, Gina, Dymond, Martha, Andrea, Rose, Carl, Rayshawn, Jasmine, Rachquel, Jarmel, Alicia, Breanna, Harley, DaJuan, Rasheed, Sparkle, Charniqua, Matthew, Rayvon, Kierra, Jerry, Carlett, Darren, Davonte, Tanisha, Faydra, Gwen, Tiante, Tamika, Krystal, Fannia, Johnathan, Bryant, Kamel, TaJuan, Jamie, George, Ronda, Nico, Natalya, Dwight, Jonika, Amanda, Paris, Robert J., Darrius, Nakema, Donta, Dominique, Shanell, Shakayla, Shelina, DaMarco, Delmarco, Demarco, Rakheem, Deontha, Santonio, Britney, Brittani, Denyond, Keisha, Shatoria, Jeffrey, Rodney, Lavis, Lashawnda, DeAndre, Qwanitta, Tyrone, Malcolm, Brentley, Jozlynn, Shanae, Courtney, Terrance, Mekael, Da’Vaughta, Desirra, Ashley, Anthony W., Reggie, Eddie, Darrell, Lorenzo, Shenese, Raymond, Delvon… and even you, Robert N.:

You’ve probably never given my absence a second thought, but I think about you almost every single day. I’m just another white teacher who couldn’t cut it. Another person who has left you and disappointed you. I’ll never know if my words sank in. I’ll never grade one of your papers again and laugh at the funny things you wrote. I’ll never have to scold you for chatting with your friends instead of doing your work. I’ll never be able to smile at you again. I’ll never watch you try to text your friends for answers during the unit test. I’ll never fight you every minute to keep your attention and keep you from leaning out the window to talk to friends, walking out the door to “go to the bathroom,” or just plain talking over me while I’m trying to teach. I’ll never pick up all the wrappers you left all over my floor. Never again will I have to run to the bathroom during lunch and lock myself inside, praying that I can hold it all together to prevent breaking down in front of all of you. I’ll never be able to rejoice with you when you bring me your report cards with all passing grades. I’ll never be able to cry with you when you visit me during your lunch to tell me about your brothers who were shot. I’ll never watch all of you every day and feel hundreds of emotions course through my veins.

Robert N. – You were my first challenge. You were the first student I’ve ever seen come to school totally high and dance with an open umbrella. You were the first person to tell me “F*** you” to my face when I told you to put your cigarette away. You were the first student who made me cry the whole way home from school, but you weren’t the last. You hated me, and I probably hated you sometimes, but what I hate most is that you’ll never know how much I loved you and prayed for you and tried to be good to you.

So, dear students who at one point walked through room 200 – thanks for being part of my life. Thanks for teaching me. Thanks for letting me talk to you and try to impart some knowledge to you. I miss you all, and I hope you think of me once in awhile.

Goodbye, my kiddos… and good luck.

Ms. P

I find it very ironic that I wrote all of that yesterday, because after I wrote it, I found out that I’m getting a second chance. Another opportunity to reach students. Another opportunity to share a little bit of myself and hope to make a difference.

About 2 months ago, I applied for a teaching position at a school here in Plymouth. I didn’t tell very many people, mostly because I was carrying that deadly insecurity, and I didn’t want anyone to know if I failed again. Yesterday, through God’s grace, my hope was renewed. I had already begun to mentally berate myself for getting overly hopeful about this opportunity, because I hadn’t heard from the school. I couldn’t wait any longer for them to call me, so I called the principal to follow up and find out where they were in the process. After steeling myself so long for the inevitable, “Well, we’ve actually filled the position,” my heart leaped into my throat when he said:

“You’re our girl – you won!”

And I realized… I have won. I had viewed my time at Last Chance Academy as a failure for so long, but it wasn’t. I am not a failure. I won. I won by relying on God’s strength every day and trusting that He would keep me going. I won by waking up every morning and going to a hostile environment where I was fighting against ridiculous odds. I won by taking a chance and leaving my future in God’s hands.

Thanks so much to those of you who shared this burden with me, to those of you who have been praying for me.

I get to be a teacher again!

"Ms. P - I say you are the best teacher I've had." - D.H.


  1. Oh my gosh YAY! Which school, what grades and subjects? Oh I am so excited for you!

  2. YAY! I am so happy for you!!!

  3. Way to Go! You deserve it.

  4. this post makes my heart happy for you.

  5. I would be doing you a disservice if I didn't tell you that you just made me cry. Teaching is a gift, that much I know and that much we share. Congratulations.

  6. Your new students are lucky to have you! Here's hoping your new "Robert N." will be a future blog success story.

  7. That is so great! I'm genuinely excited for you!

  8. Wow!!! Amazing post, Rachel...I had goosebumps the whole time I read it. Just yesterday morning I was thinking, "I wonder if Rachel has heard from Plymouth." I'm so happy for you! I'm so excited for your future students. I'm glad this relieves you of the burden you've been carrying...b/c I've never doubted that you're an amazing teacher. Yay! I'm so thrilled for you! You should know that Kool-n-the-Gang's "Celebration" is playing in my head right now. I think we should celebrate...Jeanette & Rachel style!