15 years. 11 schools. 4 states.
Everyone thinks we’re in the military. Or crazy.
Everywhere I went, whether I stayed a year or on the rare occasion two, I bought every spirit shirt I could. I went to every event I could. I showed up early, stayed late and did whatever it took to show those kids they were loved. I learned the traditions, made some friends, memorized the alma mater. And I tried desperately to feel at home.
Somehow, I always managed to find a place for myself, to carve a spot to leave a little piece of Texas somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Arkansas or Oklahoma, to bring a taste of the south to upstate New York. But it was never really home.
And then, I found Leander. It felt like the place I was meant to be, from the first step through the sliding glass door in the front of the building to the walk down the hallway, past the attendance office and up the stairs to what would be my classroom for the next four years. We are the Lions, our yearbook is The Lair. I live on Lion’s Lair. Our colors are royal blue and white. My favorites. It was meant to be.
This year, I finally stopped getting lost when I ventured out of my classroom. I finally memorized the extension for the AP office. I finally had enough of a reputation that kids knew they couldn’t interrupt my class or lie to me about where they went during Pride Time and that they’d better bring me back some Bush’s sweet tea. I finally had a group of kids who had been mine for all four years they were in high school. I finally figured out the bell schedule on pep rally days and understood how exemptions work. Finally home.
4 yearbooks. 14 workshops and camps with staff. Thousands of photos in the N drive. Over 500 newspaper stories. 15 plaques on the wall. A Pacemaker nomination and a trip to LA. Hundreds of students, dozens of pep rallies, choir concerts and performances. 44 football games. A 19-inning baseball game. Fire drills in the rain, fire drills in a tornado warning, fire drills for the fun of it. 3 hour lockdowns complete with SWAT. 2 principals. The 5% that gave 100% in our pilot YG program.
And now, the number in my head is 4. 4 more days and it’ll be the last time I hold my L’s in the air and yell “red, white and blue,” the last time I take a selfie with a student and then lock the door to 2320. I’ll walk down the stairs, past what used to be the attendance office and down the hallway through what used to be a sliding glass door. I’ll say goodbye to my Leander family. But I’ll never say goodbye to being a Lion. I’ll take every memory we ever made with me. So let’s meander, oh Leander, til we make our dreams come true.
“And every road you take will always lead you home…”