(left to right:  pansy, kerry, corrie, jenny, casey and me….we were the weather system for Halloween in 2003)

Two weird things happened last week.  Well, two weird things tied into teaching.  If you add in OTHER weird incidents….well, we just won’t go there.

Anyhow, I was in Michaels, getting a few supplies when I happened across these little *gems*.

Monk #2

Or Monk #1 if #2 isn’t adequate….

A Cemetery Kit…


Yes, you got that right.  Mission figurines.

I stopped in my tracks.  Squealed and took out my phone to get a few pics of their horridness.  It was like a bad accident.  I knew I shouldn’t be pulled in, but I couldn’t turn away.  You see, without trying, I became a California History geek.  In 1998, I stumbled into one of the biggest gifts in my life.  Marin School in Albany, California.

I was in the Multiple Subject teaching credential program at St Mary’s College in Moraga.  I had student taught a bit and my supervisor had let me know about an opportunity to interview for a job in Albany, a small district wedged between Berkeley and El Cerrito in the East Bay.  I figured, “why not?”  Good experience.  Nothing would come of it.  Etc.

Well…..after my interview, I was sent to the “naughty bench” in the office.  School was just letting out and the principal needed to attend to a few things.  That’s when I thought to myself, “uh,oh…. I’m afraid they might actually offer me this job!”  The position was for a 4th grade teacher placement.  Mid-year.  The former teacher had suddenly died of a massive stroke.  This former teacher, Diane Lohman, was hands down one of the most phenomenal educators Albany has ever seen.  I never had the chance to meet her, yet still feel I knew her having taught in her classroom, sifting through her things and legacy for 11 years.

I received the job that day (a Thursday).  Accepted it that night.  Went in to meet the kids on Friday.  Started teaching on Monday (after almost peeing my pants and hysterically crying moments before the bell rang at 8:30am).  That was an intense first year, especially as I was still in graduate school full time.  Luckily, another teacher had been hired the week before me, to take over another 4th grade class mid-year.  That teacher, Jenny, has since become one of my dearest friends.  We would call each other, DURING CLASSROOM TEACHING HOURS (shhhhh….), to clarify math lessons, get encouragement, whisper about the insanity that was unfolding.  We were in each other’s weddings.  We went to Italy together one summer.  Her humor helped me through so much.  Later, after she and another dear friend, also named Christine!, left Marin School, a new crew of ladies entered the 4th grade and has continued to remain dear to my heart (check out their loveliness in the picture at the top of this post).

Teaching in general, the Marin School community  more specifically, and the students were so much more than a job to me.  It was my life in the best way possible.  So, when I saw those Mission “action figures” in Michaels, it brought back so many memories in my mind.  And then, to make sentiments run even deeper, I was in the library and my eye caught these books.

And I looked up and realized I was in the California History children’s section!!!!!  I started salivating.  Alex had to literally drag me away.  I was drooling over Gold Rush books, stories of the Transcontinental Railroad,  Missions and Ranchos.  Seriously.  It still, at this moment, gives me butterflies to think about all of that.  I’m officially needing to be committed.  I know.  I’m psycho.

But I have to say, there was this amazing 3-person crew who I’m convinced held Marin School together and with whom I would not have survived.  My parents, being former teachers, always told me that getting “in” with the secretary and the custodian was key for teaching success.  And at Marin School, I’d agree.  Ellen Benson, the main secretary, and Tom Dailey, our custodian, never limited themselves to their “job descriptions”.  There really are not words to describe the labor of love they lived out each day.  The third crucial component?  The principal.  And at Marin School, being under Marian Rothschild’s wing and leadership grew me personally and professionally in ways I’m still seeing today.

When I first started at Marin back in January of 1998, Ellen and Marian became my moms away from home.  When I was sick, they forced me to go to Kaiser.  When I was boyfriendless, they (and the entire {concerned} staff!) tried to set me up on blind dates.  When I needed advice on European travel, they always gave me tips.  Going to work at Marin each day, even when the kids proved tough, was still one of the most comforting experiences of my life.

Tom, the custodian, who’s still there, made my heart sing.  He was so humble and understated and yet the serious glue that held that school together (literally and figuratively).  On my last day teaching at Marin in February of 2008, I came into my classroom and found this on my desk:

I didn’t need a note to tell me who it was from.  Tom is a huge deviled egg conessour and clearly, he’d prepared it special for me.  Seeing this made my heart sing, my eyes well up and just about sent me to my knees.

Then, to top it off, the school came to wish me “Happy Trails” on my last day….

And they did a surprise serenade session.  The WHOLE school.  Oh, my….tear central.

So, as Drew is nearing his 3 month birthday next week, and we start to think about what my role will be in our family financially, teaching seems like a natural answer.

But I know things have changed.  My friends and family that are still at it, in the trenches these days, remind me of how hard things are and how many things are different from just three years ago. I’m in a new community, unknown to the principals and human resource folks.  I don’t know all the current buzz words and ins and outs of the curriculum anymore.  So, who knows.  Frankly, I’m not sure I have the stamina to do it anymore.  Having 2 munchkins of my own at home is pretty draining.

For now, I’m going to just keep taking things a day at a time and listening.  To pay attention to that “still, small voice” and seek out confirmation about next steps.  Matt often says when he’s preaching, that God chose to dwell in flesh and blood and that God chooses to use us to speak His truth into our lives.  Marian, my former principal, still does this in my life.  She just sent me this yesterday….

I enjoy your posts, am amazed at your energy, desire to contribute and connect to a bigger community.  You do have many  gifts from writing to photography to teaching in its many settings. I know you will find your new path as you enjoy your boys.

Sending love and encouragement,



So, rather than getting too sappy, sentimental and nostalgic, I am going to dwell in thanksgiving for the present and for the encouragement of those I hold near and dear.    I will attempt to live in the here and now.  Luckily, having two little kids makes that pretty much the only option!  And as for the next steps?  Guess clarity on that question will have to wait for now.

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