Time to celebrate! (Read more celebrations here)… how long it has been since I participated in this lovely ritual… says a lot about where my head has been the past two months. The beginning of school is already crazy and busy enough. Helping our school find a new principal when ours left without warning right before the beginning of school has been a pressing and stressful job. But the big body blow has been sending my one and only off to college. Snuffle. Sniff.
But it’s a new day.
A few weeks ago my husband, daughter and I were shopping for “new-college-clothes” and trying to decide where to grab a quick dinner. We were all tired and hungry and ready to get home. We settled on a CPK in the mall. It wasn’t my choice but I went along. THANK GOODNESS I did!
As soon as we got our table I went to the bathroom to wash up. An older woman was washing her hands while a younger woman was holding her walker, patiently waiting. I almost walked by without looking at her face, but something made me stop and look.
“ALICE TABUCHI!” I blurted out. She looked at me with a little surprise, a little confusion, and for a moment I felt badly, thinking I was going to have to explain who I was to someone who might not be able to remember me. And then she smiled. “Cathy Scott!”
I remember her like it was yesterday. When I first started teaching at 232nd Place Elementary in LAUSD, some 27 years ago, she and two other third grade teachers, Joyce Hayashi and Jean Yoshida, took me under their wings and helped me learn how to fly. I was fully credentialed, had a semester of student teaching under my belt, and yet… I was new. I had no idea what to do. I thought I did, but that first class of second and third graders taught me just how new I was, and how difficult teaching was, and how much I had to learn. Alice, Jean and Joyce, or my three fairy godmothers as I called them, showed up every afternoon, in my class, dropping little hints, propping me up, talking me down. They gave me whatever I needed, every day, without ever asking for anything in return. They weren’t getting paid to be mentors, they just knew what it took to get started and they did it.
I am filled with gratitude when I look back and realize how important they were to my career. What selfless women they were. And they always laughed and had a fun time – they showed me that teaching was an art, a craft, a skill set, and also a sisterhood. They lived that and modeled it perfectly for me.
We lean on each other, we need each other, and in these tense and stressful times – at least in my district where teachers have been under attack for the past few years – it is the only way we can manage our way through some of the days. My students fill me with wonder and energy, but my colleagues keep me grounded, secure and moving forward. That is something to celebrate indeed.
“It’s Cathy Scott Skubik now, yes! It’s me! Alice, it is so good to see you!” and we hugged. We made our way back to our tables, and for the next half hour we caught up. Alice, Joyce and Jean are all enjoying retirement and grandkids. We promised to keep in touch. I thanked her from the bottom of my heart as I told her just what she meant to me.
Thank you Alice.