This blog post is part of a series that I began for telling our story. You can read the first post here.
The story of our daughter’s brief life begins in Texas. Where else? My husband had taken a call to Huntsville Texas, to serve as the pastor of the Lutheran church there. This church had a school/preschool/daycare with about 100 people on staff total (including part-time aides required for correct ratios in each age group). The property was made up of three main buildings plus a set of portable buildings (the kind you will often see on the grounds of schools that have gotten too big for the space that they have, but have not yet built additional classrooms). The church building including a large narthex (lobby) with offices on one end and bathrooms and a nursery on the other. The nursery doubled as the infant room for the daycare.
The next building was known as the “Aquarium,” because in the center was a former atrium with glass walls on three sides. It had been converted into indoor space long before we arrived, and was nicknamed the aquarium because it resembled one with all of the glass. Considering how often I’ve heard of pastors’ families living in a “fishbowl,” this was a bit ironic. This glass room was the fellowship hall for the church, and was flanked by an L-shaped hallway of classrooms and bathrooms, as well as a small church office. There was also a kitchen and an open area outside of the glass room, which was converted into two classrooms while we were there.
The third building was the “school” building, often referred to as the “gym” building for obvious reasons. The gym also served as the school cafeteria and larger fellowship space for the church, and boasted a large commercial kitchen. The attached hallway included five classrooms and the school library.
Shortly after we arrived in Texas, the principal of the school asked me to be a “teacher” for the summer. Now, during the summer months there wasn’t a regular school program, but rather a more relaxed schedule with structure for the sake of the children. Daycare continued to function from 6am to 6pm as it did year-round, but in the summer there were fewer preschool and elementary children enrolled. The ones who did come had working parents and this served as childcare as much as anything.
My role as teacher meant that I set up the classroom and managed it, scheduling activities in between our assigned times for using the gym, library, playgrounds, and eating lunch. I attended morning staff devotions where extra instructions for the day or week would be shared. For the summer each week had a theme, and we were given flexibility to apply that theme as we best saw fit for our rooms. I would work in the mornings from 8 until noon or 1 (it’s been too long, I can’t remember), and an aide would take over the class in the afternoon.
I learned a lot that summer, from classroom management to the dangers of fire ants. I learned how to write up incident reports and discovered that my wardrobe was not Texas-ready for summer (I didn’t own a single pair of shorts prior to moving here). Sleeveless shirts became my new best friend. I learned that boys may cry just as much as girls when they are embarrassed or upset, and I heard more cartoon movies quoted than I ever have before or since.
My time teaching wrapped up in a strange way, however, not because I was fired or quit, but because of other circumstances that landed on our family. This was the summer of 2010, and so many changes were coming…
Next post coming tomorrow.