Sunday, December 4, 2016


I will never forget the first time I met Kim. It was 1992, opening day of the new school year for my girls. Our family had arrived in Salem nearly a year before, the day before Halloween, 1991. Before we knew it, it was time to come back after our summer break. I was outside, with the rest of the parents, near the Salem Heights Elementary parking lot at a table set-up for parents to meet-up and collect information about school activities. Small talk buzzed throughout the area, then our eyes met. A connection! Despite ten months in Salem, I was eager to meet possible kindred spirits.

Kim and I shared our arrivals to town. She said she hoped to find a part-time job that allowed her to be home when her kids were home. I told her I'd found such a job I loved. Our conversation continued a short while from there. A few weeks later, I spotted her at the school where I worked. She'd been hired as a one on one for a young child in a neighboring classroom. I was surprised and pleased to see she had listened and acted upon what I'd told her.

Eventually, after being a one on one and subbing around the district, she became the second KG assistant. She was kind, loyal and efficient. And now, 20+ yrs later, both of us have gone through teachers & changes over the years. We've bonded with the teachers, watched them move on and in Gwen's case, mourned a wonderful teacher passing.

Now we've begun a year that has challenged both of us on many fronts. Our principal has taken advantage of the district homogenizing the description of our position. Instead of kindergarten being our focus, we've been scheduled to assist in 5th, 4th & 1st grades. Moving to a different location every 30 minutes. Instead of focusing on the development of the skills of the youngest, we're being deployed into other classrooms to assist with a new curriculum.

All of us working in kindergarten are frustrated. Partly because "change is hard", but mostly because we both believe the district's focus ought to center on the youngest. It's the reason (we heard) for the district's full day KG investment. Sadly, it'll also be the reason Kim will leave sooner than she planned. I'll miss her: her obvious love of the children, her attention to detail, how she never fails to remember to help us all everyday.

Now that I think on it, this will be the most selfish thing she's ever done. I only say that because she's never selfish, but her action is completely understandable in this situation. Not only is she old enough and situated well enough to retire, but she's no longer enjoying her days. We've experienced changes we don't agree with before, but this latest change has made the least sense and caused the greatest upheaval to all of those involved.

I'll miss her every day. So glad she has my phone number!

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