The first time I walked onto the 5th floor of SLA was August of 2008 with Chris Lehmann on a tour of the new space and to pick out my classroom. We opened all the doors and chatted about space, but when we got to room 504 I knew that was the room for me. Gigantic wall of windows and overlooking the rail lines which meant that there was some space for sunlight to fill the room.
Over the years we watched the staging of the 2008 Phillies World Series Championship parade, on a lazy Sunday of grading I watched the motorcade for President Obama head for 30th St. station on JFK, there were advisory parties that included all manner of snack, there were hilariously pitched projects, in depth discussions, tough parent conferences, passionate disagreements, hushed conversations about what to do after high school, there was the moment when one of my first advisees found out that she won the Gates Millenium scholarship and we all cried. It was my favorite teaching space … just out of the way enough to focus, sharing the hallway with Larissa and Brad, light that flooded the room.
Since I left that space in June of 2012, I’ve rarely stepped foot back on the 5th floor. I convinced myself that it was because I always had limited minutes while I was in the building and it was more efficient to stay centrally located in the office. But the real reason that hit me straight in the feels last week was that I almost can’t bear to be up there. Larissa and I needed to chat and it was much easier for me to come to her than for her to haul down to the office. I came around the corner and I had to catch myself. Like a punch to the gut, I don’t go to the 5th floor because its a too visceral reminder that I am not a teacher anymore.
On my way to school that day I had read a post from my former colleague and general all around fabulous human, Zac Chase that said, ““While I love what I’ve gotten to do since leaving the classroom and the experiences it has afforded me, nothing has been or will ever be as amazing as what I got to do in the classroom.” Being in that place, in that space is just a reminder of the loss of that part of my life. I miss teaching kids.