Summer Interlude & A Final Graduation

Ordinary Time – July

In my heart, I knew this year would mark my last graduation at St. Augustine Catholic High School. Our administrative team and I had waited until the very last moment to make that announcement. It had been my final request that the May commencement be focused on our seniors rather than the fact that their school principal would be retiring. I had already let a few people know that my husband had been offered a chance of a lifetime position that might ultimately stretch our home boundaries across the country to Washington, D.C. While our roots would remain solidly planted in the Arizona desert we call home, I could not stay in a position that I might have to leave over the next few months.

I bargained with God not to let me cry at every juncture of the goodbye process. He didn’t agree to my terms, and I felt like an emotional wreck by the time I drove out of my parking spot for the last time in mid-June.

Now it is July, and the bell will soon sound the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. For the first time in years, I will not be making the inaugural morning announcements. Already, the school’s website has changed to reflect the new faculty and staff. The handbooks have been updated, class rosters set in place, instructional resources ordered, and school policies refreshed. Even without me, those tasks have been accomplished.

This summer has been one of mixed emotions. For decades, this season has been defined by the end of one school year and the beginning of another with maybe a week or two of vacation squeezed in. As much as I determined that the success of the school was contingent on my being on “alert” 24/7, I am now experiencing what I have always known – no one is truly indispensable. Desperate as that sounds, it is also quite humbling. I may feel like I have lost my direction, but in reality, I am simply forcing myself to take a tentative step onto “my road less traveled.” Who knows what I will discover? It’s scary, but I think it might also be okay. 

My heart is beating an odd cadence as I try to put into words the feeling of being untethered to what has been my community for so long. I have avoided writing for the past few weeks because my thoughts are scattered, and my identity is obscured. This blog – my rough draft of a future book about being a secondary school principal – is out of order. I started it in Lent with the idea that I would chronicle a full academic year in the life of a high school principal. I would post essays throughout the months, rounding them out with articles I have written over the years for my school newsletters. I would do this until I reached Lent again. Then, in the editing process, I could gather all these posts, organize them into a school year, and publish (Still) Extraordinary Time, my second foray into authorship. But now, I find myself writing about retiring at a point when I should be writing about a new school year. I confuse myself.

One truth I have discovered is that it is often better to dive into the unknown rather than think about all the things that can go wrong. This post represents an interlude (and probably the last entry in the book when I finally get to that point!). I will continue to post to this blog the ponderings and essays that I have rightfully written over the years. After all, those experiences I am sharing were mine, are mine…and honestly, capture moments in the lives of so many of us involved in Catholic education – hence the reason I feel compelled to share them. (Really, who cares if this is out of order? I am not even sharing the blog with that many people anyway. And honestly, if I really lose focus, I could simply delete all of this and not concern myself with the order at all! WordPress is my playground.)

Whew! I feel better. I have been wrestling with my deflated muses for weeks.  Now, I have a direction. The next post will bring us into a new school year based on the experiences that many of us in education share. At some point in our lives, we are all first graders, high school students, and graduates. Change is part of the process.