It started with an e-mail. The subject line read “meeting”. I knew exactly what it meant when I saw the sender was the director of my school, and my heart dropped down into my stomach. I can’t remember a time when I became that nervous, so fast. The close friends I had shared my concerns with about this “meeting” did not reciprocate the feelings. “Why are you nervous? It will be fine, you are a great teacher!” You see… my contract is coming to an end after this year, and now is the time when I get offered another contract and can re-sign… or I am offered nothing.
As I headed down the long, bright and narrow hallway (I honestly felt like the walls were closing in on me) I saw my principal head into Dr. Kim’s office before me. My heart was pounding in my ears and I had to wipe the sweat accumulating inside my palms on the skirt of my forest green dress (that was when I had a thought about my attire… was I appropriately dressed, you know-the way a second grade teacher should be?). Why would my principal have to be at my, “Okay let’s sign a new contract!” meeting with the director? This could not be a good sign.
I knocked on the door and was greeted by the two men; who, though opposite in physical appearance, wore the same expression. “This office always makes me nervous,” I managed to half-joke. They each forced a tight smile and small chuckle and motioned for me to sit at the head (or butt depending on how you look at it) of the long, gleaming, (and surely expensive) conference table. With the principal on my left and the director on my right I was greeted with, “I just want you to know that I am very pleased with your performance and growth since you started here, and that is why what I am about to say is very difficult.”
And that was when I knew.
Okay the two of them sitting there, and no contract in Dr. Kim’s hand (who is notorious for getting you to sign as soon as possible, with maybe two minutes to think about it) were all pretty giant clues as well.
International schools in Korea are not doing so well. It could be because more and more keep popping up all over the place, and that Korea changed their laws to make it more strict for children to get in… The fact is, my school doesn’t have the numbers to support two second grade classrooms anymore.
The numbness I felt while Dr. Kim talked moved from the top of my head to the tips of my feet, it wasn’t until my principal started complimenting my tremendous growth, and how I had gotten through a really tough year last year (remember that people?) and telling me that he would do everything in his power to make sure I had a job in Seoul, oh and then saying that I was a “gem”… that was when the realization of what was happening started to sink in.
I did the one thing I had been fighting against since Dr. Kim started talking, and as the tears started rolling down my face I couldn’t stop them… I hated the looks of sympathy on the two grown men’s faces as they reached for a tissue and watched me lose it, I felt so vulnerable. I tried taking deep breaths (just as I tell my students to do) and I managed to calm down enough to say, “God is bigger.”
And here’s the thing. I wholeheartedly believe that. I just needed to have my mourning period. My second grade teacher partner, I will miss her the most. Teaching the second grade (I am not sure what grade I will be at next), I will miss it. The community of friends I have made at APIS, I will miss them so much, they are like my family here.
My faith will only grow stronger, and I will only move on to bigger and better things… there is only promotion in God’s Kingdom and I will soon get to the point where I will be excited for this next step! CHINCHA.