Friday, June 12, 2009

Getting the Credit You Deserve

Sometimes nothing feels better than getting recognition for a job well done, especially when that credit comes from people who understand just what it took to realize your accomplishment. My Mom got to have that experience last night, and I got to witness it.

After teaching in the Montgomery County Public School system for 13 years, and after a an exemplary professional career that started back in 1969 (I'm pretty sure that's what she said) my Mom is retiring. Last night the school system honored all of its 2009 retirees with a ceremony and reception. Luminaries and high-ranking officials from inside the organization, including the school superintendent and the county executive, showed up to honor the "graduates." Like any good commencement each retiree walked the stage as their name and position was announced, shook hands with the notables, and received a nice leaded glass trophy inscribed with the year of their retirement. Mom was very much touched by the whole occasion.

She's had a stellar career, with nothing but high marks and piles of praise from her colleagues, principals, parents and students. Until the last two years or so, she'd never gotten any sort of negative feedback about her teaching skills. Then a new, young principal, wet behind the ears and seemingly vacant in-between, started at her school. Ageist and determined to cut budget he began persecuting the older, more expensive teachers, trying to force early retirement. I'm not exaggerating at all when I say that he made my Mom's work life hell, with constant badgering, negative reviews, and horribly unrealistic expectations and demands. It was a war, and it strongly took its toll on Mom, mentally and physically.

Many times she considered taking early retirement just to put an end to the torturous days and undue insults her principal inflicted on her. A lesser person would have folded, and some of her colleagues did, unfortunately. But Mom was determined to follow her plan and retire when she wanted to, not when some pip-squeek megalomaniac with a Napoleon complex wanted. And, more than anything else, she wanted to make sure that his persecutions didn't affect her students' education. So she stuck it out, and as of this coming Wednesday, she'll be a retired teacher able to stand tall knowing she did her best her entire career. She weathered her adversities, kept her integrity and honor intact, and turned out thousands of students better prepared than they may have been otherwise for having had my Mom as a teacher.

Congratulations, Mom. I'm proud of you.

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