My Second Family

My School Family (I’m the smiling guy in the front left)

While I like a little spontaneity in life, when it comes right down to it, I am a creature of habit.  There are certain routines that I enjoy over and over again.  What’s better than that first sip of coffee in the morning?  How about having a beer with a buddy?  I seldom turn down a cold one, but it’s twice as enjoyable spending that moment with a friend.  What’s better than taking a walk on the beach?  That’s easy!  Lose the shoes, sink my feet into the wet sand, watch the dogs run with pleasure and happiness, and enjoy the time with a pal.  The common denominator is that these experiences are better when shared with friends.

One of my more recent traditions is that my former coworkers and I gather for our retirement lunch once a month.  Since retirement three years ago, I seldom miss these gatherings.  While I like food as much as the next guy, it’s more about spending time with the people I admire.

These aren’t just former coworkers—they are family.  I think it speaks volumes to the way we feel about one another to have such tremendous turnouts.  These are the people who waged the daily challenges of working in a public school together.  This photo is from our most recent lunch.  Because I was curious, I decided to poll the group to see how many years of service we had together.  The sixteen people in this photo worked for a combined four hundred-one years in the South Bay School District and four hundred eighty-two years overall.  That is an average of thirty years per person!

Teaching was the most challenging and rewarding job I ever had.  How can I ever forget those hard days that seemed to sap every last ounce of energy and optimism? I will always remember coming to school on 9/11 and trying to comfort children, who had seen horrific images on television, to reassure them they were going to be safe.  There were times when a child in the school passed away unexpectedly.  How could these tragedies not affect us all?  We were with the kids when they lost a family member, a pet, and when other hard situations changed their families.  Divorce? Incarceration? Abuse?  We saw it all—not just with the kids, but in our lives as well.

Besides the difficult times, there were moments of pure joy.  I never tired of watching children grow as students and, equally important, as people.  Sharing in the excitement of students feeling good about themselves is perhaps the thing I miss most.

So how did we get through it all?  We survived and thrived because we worked together for the common goal of educating children.  In the words of the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  Everyone from the principal, teachers, teacher aides, secretary, librarian, lunch and playground monitors, custodians, grounds people, and other school personnel contribute.  It is a team effort, and when one of these pieces is missing, the job gets a little bit harder.

What happens at these lunches? When you get a bunch of retired school folks together, it’s always great to see photos of the new grandchildren, hear about the trips, the latest hobbies, but without fail, someone will have a story about one of our former students that bring back so many remembrances.  Here come the memories and the laughs.  We look with pride when we see students who have become responsible adults and are making their mark in the world.  I am proud of my second family.

Categories SchoolTags , , ,

41 thoughts on “My Second Family

  1. What a wonderful thing to do, Pete. I’m so glad you have that sort of close-knit group.

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  2. petespringerauthor February 12, 2020 — 5:05 pm

    It is quite remarkable, Jacqui. I never felt this way about the people I worked with in any other job.

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  3. How lovely, Pete the joy and happiness shines bright in all of you…It is always lovely to share memories it is what defines us and makes us who we are…A lovely post 🙂 x

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    1. petespringerauthor February 12, 2020 — 7:30 pm

      Some of the special people in my life right there.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. what a great tradition. and you have captured beautifully the many rewards of being a teacher. perhaps some day we can have a cold one together!

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    1. petespringerauthor February 12, 2020 — 8:03 pm

      I would like that a lot, Jim. How is the beer in Thailand? (Asking for a friend.)😎

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      1. they have a couple of good local beers, but we didn’t have enough time to try more! 🙂

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  5. Teaching can be most fulfilling, Pete. Especially with this age group who are so enthusiastic to learn.

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    1. petespringerauthor February 13, 2020 — 8:23 am

      People often ask me what my favorite grade was to teach (I taught all classes from 2-6), and I’m not just politically correct when I say that there was something delightful about every age. I am struck by the stark difference between two years in our lives vs. that of a child. Kids change so much in one or two years.

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  6. It’s great to have someone to share with, even better when you have shared memories.

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    1. petespringerauthor February 13, 2020 — 8:25 am

      Most definitely! Teachers, like writers, always seem to look out for and support one another.

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  7. What a lovely post, Pete. It’s great that the loving energy you all created in your years of teaching brings you all together now. ❤

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    1. petespringerauthor February 13, 2020 — 8:31 am

      We’ve been through a lot with one another. When we surround ourselves with good people, our lives are going to be happier. Good to hear from you, Jane.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. A heart-warming and entertaining post, Pete!

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    1. petespringerauthor February 13, 2020 — 8:33 am

      Thanks, Brad. I think we all feed off of the positive energy of those around us.

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  9. How special to have such ongoing relationships! That speaks volumes about the culture of your schools and how folks were connected. Kudos to you all for your high EQ! No wonder your students thrived! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. petespringerauthor February 13, 2020 — 8:46 am

      I know that schools are not all the same, but I’m sure you have worked with plenty of people who you admire and respect, Katharine. Having good leadership contributes to a positive culture, and I had the good fortune of working with so many great people. The lady next to me is my good friend and mentor, Nancy. I did part of my student teaching year in her classroom. She was a fabulous principal, and now I am blessed to be in the same critique group. She has had a tremendous influence on my life. (I’m sure there will be a future blog post about her.) 😎

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  10. I had that deep love and support during the 25 years I taught at an art college. We were always strapped for funds, so we shared a can-do attitude. Sadly, since I was one of the younger ones, now that I am 72 a majority of the dear friends are gone. But I know that nothing can replace a working place full of people who love teaching and respect each other.

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    1. petespringerauthor February 13, 2020 — 2:14 pm

      Working in a positive and supportive environment makes all the difference. I especially would offer that advice to all administrators. I just returned from the CalRTA (California Retired Teacher’s Association) luncheon, and I sat next to a retired teacher who is now ninety-years-old. I wanted to tell her that she didn’t look a day over eighty, but I don’t know if she would have taken that as a compliment. I enjoyed hearing about the differences in teaching during her era. They gave my book away to three first-year teachers who were in attendance. I always like to see young and enthusiastic new teachers coming into the profession.

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      1. I think you were wise to hold off on the comment. I would have asked her what she was reading!

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      2. petespringerauthor February 14, 2020 — 1:17 pm

        Yep, that’s a much safer and better response. I do think it is interesting how some people keep their age a secret while others go out of their way to tell people. It seems to be a source of pride for many when you hit a certain age.

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      3. Just now at the market the man in front of me buying awful groceries told me he was 74 and he didn’t care any more about what he ate!

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  11. It’s remarkable how many years of combined service you all gave! Do you live in a town or a city, Pete? I ask because it must be wonderful seeing your grown students and what they’ve become thanks to all of the teaching association’s hard work.
    P.S.
    You don’t look old enough to be retired!

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    1. petespringerauthor February 15, 2020 — 7:45 pm

      I live in the same city that I taught in, and I periodically get the unexpected pleasure of running into former students. Some of them are in their forties now. I’ve gone to birthdays, graduations, and weddings. How can you put a price on that? Oh, one of my former students teaches at my old school. How cool is that?

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      1. The ultimate compliment!

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  12. What a wonderful post! So many people don’t have a second family at work. I think teachers do because we go through so much, and we lean on our coworkers, and we lift them, too. We are a family. How lucky! I write about the moments of joy and learning with children, yet there are other moments. A fellow teacher’s young son accidentally drowned. Children’s parents tragically died. Those were difficult funerals to attend. Yet, they bond us as much as the weddings and birthdays and celebrations do. Here is to family #2 and all the memories you continue to share together. Thank you, Pete.

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    1. petespringerauthor February 17, 2020 — 2:59 pm

      It’s true. I think there are certain groups of people we tend to bond closer with due to the circumstances. Although I never served in the military, I see the close kinship that many have with their fellow service people. I have to imagine it would be the same for a longtime police partner or EMT workers. Facing important moments together is what brings us together. Thank goodness our colleagues are there to pick us up when we have a bad day just like we are there for them.

      Educating children is a serious business. We can still have fun with our students and colleagues, but teaching skills that will help children their whole lives is essential stuff. In addition to all of the academic material, one of our most significant responsibilities is to teach children about character. It would help if celebrities and people in the government realized this too.

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      1. Well said, Pete. I thought about making the same reference to the military, because it is absolutely true (band of brothers), but I worried my reply was already too long. Hubby and son are both military, so I know this kinship firsthand. We still go to his Navy squadron reunions, brothers and sisters since ‘72. And I imagine it must be the same for EMTs and nurses. The most demanding jobs are also the most rewarding.

        Okay, character. You know that really hits a nerve with me. It’s the core of what’s most important in teaching, in the same group as love, kindness, and morality. Yes, if celebrities and government officials and many athletes understood this and were role models, that would be almost as good as all the stars aligning.

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  13. That is an amazing thing to do Pete and you are right, they are family, especially with all that you have gone through together both on a national basis and personally within the school.. that support system will have helped many over that first year of retirement when then everyday contact and feeling of being part of that family is disconnected. x

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    1. petespringerauthor February 20, 2020 — 2:49 pm

      Our son went through K-6th grades at my school, and many of these people had a positive influence on his life. I’ve got so many reasons to be thankful for working at such a positive school.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It sounds amazing Pete.. and your son was a very lucky student. x

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  14. Wonderful post, Pete. I’m sending it to my son who is in the middle of his probationary year as a teacher. I think he’ll appreciate your positive attitude to teaching.

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    1. petespringerauthor February 20, 2020 — 4:51 pm

      For every tough day in teaching (everyone has them), some times make you feel like a million bucks. Many of the best ones involve students. When grown students come back to visit years later to show you what they’ve become, there is no better feeling, knowing that you had something to do with a student’s success.

      What subject/level is your son teaching?

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      1. His degree is in bio-medical sciences so biology is his main subject but in this probationary year he’s teaching 1st to 3rd years in secondary schools (not quite sure how that translates) so is doing general sciences. Any time now the local authorities all over Scotland will post their vacancies online and he will have to apply for a permanent post. It’s scary and it seems biology is particularly competitive. Fingers crossed!

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      2. petespringerauthor February 20, 2020 — 5:05 pm

        Our son has been coaching football at the college level, but he has decided that he wants to set some roots down and stay in one place for a bit. (Lots of moving around in the world of college coaching.) I think this is an excellent solution for him because he can teach something that he enjoys (history) while still being able to coach at the high school level.

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  15. Thank you for a wonderful and motivating post, Peter! I made a joke on Sally’s blog: What will actual pupils think about, having so many teacher at one place. Lol Honourable meeting, with a lot of experiences and knowledge should be saved for future too. Michael

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    1. petespringerauthor February 20, 2020 — 4:54 pm

      That has happened to us before, Michael. A grown student will walk in and think they’ve stepped into some time warp. I get such a kick out of the expression on their face. I posted this picture on Facebook, and so many former students responded to it.

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  16. I enjoyed reading about how you’ve maintained your close friendship with your former teaching colleagues.

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    1. petespringerauthor February 20, 2020 — 8:02 pm

      I don’t feel this close to any other group of people I worked with. Part of it is the longevity factor, but mostly it is about the respect that I have for a group of exceptional people.

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      1. It’s wonderful to have that.

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