I went into school yesterday after not having been there for a week and it was......strange. I have been in the same capacity in the same elementary school for a good 10 years. During all that time, I knew my role, I had my own work space (a great little office this year), and I had my own case load of students. I have always disliked the paperwork and the multitude of meetings, but forever loved my students. Yesterday as I walked into school, I was in a completely different role and that was...very strange. My former students just smiled and said, "Hi" as they met me in the hall. No longer am I involved in their daily triumphs and trials hearing about such things as Freddy who might be having a particularly bad day. One trusted staff member told me that one of my favorite students who has always had a difficult home life (father died recently, mother in jail) and school life (frequently in the time-out room) was very sad with my departure and hasn't been able to engage in much work with my replacement. I miss my old job, I miss my colleagues, I miss the connection with my special education students, but I am excited about the challenge my sabbatical presents.
For many reasons, I have always been there for the underdog. For me, for years, that has meant advocating for, working with and teaching the more learning-challenged and/or unique students. But in the last few years I have also become connected to and started to care deeply about gifted students. They truly are the students being left behind now,at least in New Hampshire and in other states that don't fund (even though they might legislate for) gifted education. There is legislation, money, staff, parent organizations, and journals full of research to ensure that students with learning challenges get the education they deserve - they are clearly no longer left behind. But gifted students, our potential future scholars, physicians and leaders, are left behind and on their own in New Hampshire and in a number of other states. It is the reason I am on sabbatical, hoping to develop a program that at least starts to meet the needs of elementary-aged students,in a small New Hampshire town, who are gifted in math.