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Sunday, July 4, 2010

The End of an Era

It's taken me a long time to be able to sit down and write this. For some time now this blog has been fueled by stories about my time at the Dark Side and now, as of this past April 1st, the Dark Side no longer exists.

I can't even put into words how I felt when I got the call that the ugly axe had finally come down on the place that launched my career, engendered my interest in mental health, and made me who I am as a teacher. The first thing I felt was regret. Regret for having left the Dark Side so long ago when I thought it was time for the next career move. Regret that I wasn't there in the end to see the last few kids off into the world. And most of all regret, feeling that I failed that place by leaving when I did. What if I had stayed? What if I had continued giving 120% day after day, blood, sweat, tears, and pain? Would it have survived? Who knows now.

The second thing I felt was a great sadness knowing that the closing would mean many generations of kids who would never know the kindness and caring that some of my students found at the Dark Side. Beyond the typical complaints about the food and the rules, I choose to believe that my kids' lives were better because of us, that the Dark Side saved them, even if it was only for a short time. Now where will the rest of the children go when their parents fail them and society decides to shut them out? Now they truly have nowhere to go.

I will say at this point that since my time at the Dark Side I have never again been happy in a teaching position. I can't explain why that is, nor do I think I will ever be able to. Maybe I love a challenge. Ok. I definitely love a challenge. Maybe I'm a champion of the underdog- the kids that no one ever expected to do more than continue on the path to permanent delinquency. Well, I think by now you all know that's true. I belonged in that place. I loved those halls, my classroom, the units where the kids lived, where we celebrated holidays as best we could. Field trips where I saw my kids faces light up when they saw a planetarium for the first time or went ice skating for the first time. The fields out back where we clumsily played sports with the kids and played on the playgrounds with them. The place was my home as much as it was theirs.

I'll move on. I'll continue to teach and research and write- but the Dark Side is over. It's the end of an era. What else can I say?

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