One of the perks of working in schools and having a best friend who is a teacher is the fact that we have always been on the same schedule. We count down the days to breaks and vacations together, and if you shook one of us awake from a sound sleep in late April or early May, chances are we could bark out the exact number of “wake ups” we have left before summer.
This summer will stretch two weeks later than usual for my friend, because her campus is not ready for students due to some construction projects: a number of portable classrooms being taken out, and a number of portable classrooms being put in.
What this means is that a bunch of teachers are not going to be able to even begin to set up their classrooms until very close to Labor Day weekend. Some teachers, of course, are keeping their same room; others, however, need to pack up all of their stuff because they are losing a building or being moved to another existing classroom.
With the closure of Windsor Creek, we have a giant number of Windsor District teachers who have done the same pain-in-the-keister move this summer. It’s exhausting just to contemplate, let alone to do it.
Cari put out an announcement on Facebook that she would be in her room on these dates, at these times, if anyone wanted to come help pack boxes, and because people love her, lots of us showed up. She put everyone to work, whether it was testing markers and pens (“we don’t need to move dry ones”), packing books (“just put ‘library’ on it and move on”) or emptying tall cabinets of all the accumulated stuff teachers acquire in a decade or two of teaching.
My day to help came at the very end of a week of work parties, and I entered a room seemingly devoid of everything but stacks of boxes. The boxes all had shorthand labels — her initials, a word or two of contents and often a location. I was tasked with emptying the last two cabinets, which were mostly paper, and I was instructed to try to balance out the weight by putting something lighter in with a decent amount of paper.
I would stack a couple of reams of paper, then cram in something like a random Halloween costume (a tutu, vest, monkey ears and tail), then write something on the outside like, “CC, c 5/6, paper & misc.” The “c 5/6” indicated the goods came from the fifth and sixth grade cabinets; I figured miscellaneous covered the tutu/monkey tail situation pretty descriptively, considering.
Note: asking a teacher anything in the throes of packing can be fraught with danger. Case in point: I had a box half-filled with construction paper and was looking for lighter items to add. I picked up some tins and boxes, expecting them to have things in them, but they were empty.
I asked, “Are we packing these empty containers?” The reply was slightly panicked, “Yes! No judging allowed!” Well, then. That box is labeled, “CC, C 5/6, paper & misc.” (I figured I had to err on the side of caution, as who knows what would happen if I wrote “paper & random stuff no reasonable person would have use for, but you are now going to have to unpack and find a location to store.”)
I don’t know how instrumental I can be in the unpacking, as I will be back with my kiddos, but maybe I can put in a late afternoon or weekend day. I am curious to see what was in all those boxes (besides monkey outfits and empty Girl Scout fall product tins) and how the contents will magically transform a plain classroom into a haven for incoming middle schoolers, eager to learn about Egypt, Greece, sign language or how to make a pronoun possessive.
As our summer draws to a close, I would like to give a shout out to all the teachers who have put so much time, energy, money, and love into making your rooms a magical portal to learning, thank you. You are superheroes.
Juliana LeRoy wears many hats, including wife, mother, paraeducator and writer. She can be spotted around Windsor gathering material, or reached at email@example.com