This is kind of a big day for me, in the history of being Sarah. A day that truly requires a leap of faith into the unknown. I’ve been both preparing for, and putting off, dealing with the letter that finally came today.

Years ago—five in June—I left my classroom at TVHS on a “Leave of Absence.” All this time, I’ve still been technically employed by the school district. Not on payroll, of course. But employed—with the option to return at any time to my profession without having to re-interview. I could just sign an Intent to Serve…and go back. Every February at this time I get a letter from the district asking if I wish to renew my LOA. I resubmit my own letter requesting the LOA and stating why, and the board approves it. Five years is a long time; I only ever expected two.

My jig is up. 😉

The letter first came on Friday, but we were at music class so I couldn’t sign for it. After last year, when they intimated that my resignation would be asked for soon, I knew that this particular year the letter would be different than all years that came before. It is. I either need to return, or formally resign. I have only a few days to return it to them, and then it is done.

It has been a comforting dance, knowing I still held my tenure and my position. I like leaving doors open. I have slept a little better knowing I have options. I like options. The biggest concern, of course, has been for my husband: his health, his desire to head into retirement. As long as I was on an LOA, it would be so easy, should the need arise, to return and provide for my family.

Yet more than just having the ability to provide for my family, the Leave of Absence represented that I still had one foot almost-sort-of in my pre-children life. That phase of my life was one of my favorites. I love being a teacher. I will always think of myself as a teacher, just like my Great-Grandmother Sarah Matics (the original, after whom I was named—my maiden name is Matics).  I worked hard to fund the schooling for my credential (I interned for the district while attending night classes and therefore barely slept that year), and I loved my teenagers. As my friend and former admin Beth likes to put it, drawing an analogy to a dinner party, I had the chance to teach everything from soup to nuts. I taught the full gamut of high school student, in every grade level at the high school campus. I loved my students, no matter who they were or whether or not they were one of the students that brought conflict into my wake. The point was to connect with them as best I could, to pass on my passion for literature and writing. I am so grateful for the lasting friendships I made. I could tell a million stories about the students who inspired me, or moments when I learned more about human nature and about myself. In fact, I have been thinking about these stories all day and at moments choking up for a time that has now officially passed. I may be in a classroom again—in fact, I hope to be—but it will never be in the same way. I love being a teacher.

So my letter is a big deal—to me. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t make me a bit emotional, on many levels. I’ve been anticipating it all month, or rather, for four-and-something years. I am so incredibly lucky that my husband works as hard as he does, and when he could be retired, for us. I am additionally lucky for gifts from my parents that help us, directly and indirectly, to fund extra curriculars and enrichment for the children. I recognize how fortunate I am even to have a decision to make. I already know what my decision is, but without that resignation signed, the decision has unofficially lingered over me for years. The Leave of Absence was a nice middle ground. I have to jump off into the unknown now and to trust that we will land all right. I have to trust that, should I ever need to (and with Bill being older, this is a true concern), I will be able to find a way to provide for my family myself, without having something on which to fall back. It is a bit terrifying. I have to believe it is going to work out, that I am not doing something now that will lead to their detriment. I have to have confidence in a future I’ve never seen.

I love being a teacher. I love being Katie and Eric’s teacher. I feel so completely fortunate to be able to be with them everyday, to teach them at home, and to be able to guide their education with our particular teaching and learning philosophies. I am lucky that I am not asked or required to trade that unique opportunity. I know fully that I am meant to be doing just this, that it is a calling. It’s just that other part of my mind that frets.

And here I am, too, at the moment where “way leads onto way” as Robert Frost wrote. Every year that letter was a way to look back, just a little bit, at where the two roads of my life diverged. I realize now I am so far down my current road that I’ve passed the bend: there is no more looking back. The first phase of my teaching career is really done, and with it goes also my 20s and all the beautiful time of life that was. A life phase is truly done. I knew that, of course, and I have loved my 30s so far even more than my 20s. It’s just that the letter this year made it suddenly very real.

I now have to write my resignation letter, and it is due very soon. Maybe I should have been working on that tonight instead of this blog entry, but I find I need to release my emotion first before I can write something more businesslike. I guess it just needs to be short and simple. Nothing ever is, though…

How do I capture how much that time of life meant to me in just a paragraph? I guess I don’t need to. But for all the lives that I got to cross paths with in those years: You meant the world to me.