Friday, March 13, 2020

About 44 Years!

Way back at one of my counseling stints in California, I had the honor and privilege of working alongside Ed Whitney. “Easy Ed” was a gentle guy with a broad smile and an even bigger heart. Kids and staff loved him. I learned much from that humble man. How to treat people, especially kids and parents. Consistency, honesty. High moral and ethical standards. Easy Ed was that kind of man.

One day, he announced his retirement. He had worked over 30 years and I remember marveling at that. I didn’t know if it was possible for anyone, much less me, to work that long in the same position. I felt cheated because I hadn’t worked with him as long as other folks did. I remember asking him to stay on a little longer. He just smiled and said, “It is time.”

That crossed my mind yesterday as I announced to the district and to my staff that after 44 years, the last 23 or so as an administrator, I am retiring.

It was a tough decision. I had promised a junior, Ethan, that I would be around for his graduation. TJ, Cristian and others, well, I feel I let them down. But honestly, as Ed told me when I asked him to stay a little longer, it’s time.

I made mistakes along the way. When someone makes decisions, mistakes are bound to happen. But I feel I had successes along the way, too. Gabino, Khalid, Matt, Jody, Kathy, Melissa. I think I’ll remember them the most, some dating way back to my first counseling position.

I’ve met and worked alongside incredible people. People who made me better just by being in their presence, their sphere. Andre. Randy. Bill. Art. Peggy. Wes. Harry. Felix. Dave. Julie. Theresa. Anna. Sharon. Pat. Joanne. Just a few of the many. Their mentoring of me, their guidance, patience and understanding, their compassion and kindness, their thoughtfulness every day- I was thankful for. I’m hoping some of it wore off on me.

I met my wife through this wonderful profession. While both of us were from Wisconsin, we had to travel to California and land at the same school in order for us to be connected, to fall in love, to have a wonderful marriage and be blessed with three remarkable and wonderful kids, now young adults.

About 44 Years!

I can never imagine myself in another profession. I touched lives- kids mostly, but also parents and adults. Hopefully, I was able to guide and mentor a few of them. I mentioned a couple of kids, now grown up with kids of their own, I’m sure. There are others. Probably many I’ve forgotten.

The thing about being a teacher, being in education is that we shape lives. Our words, our actions sometimes become the words and actions of the kids we work with. We are “on” all the time, 24/7. It’s hard to shut down. Lesson plans. Test scores. Sub-groups. Data. Worrying about pay. Worrying about the lack of sleep. Worrying about the lack of sick days. Sacrificing our own lives for the good of the kids, for the people who work alongside us. Teaching during the day, grading papers at night, and then planning the next day’s lessons. Over and over. Weekdays and weekends.

About 44 Years!

I will miss the kids the most. Their handshakes and fist bumps as they walk through the doors each morning as they get off the bus. Sometimes the hugs. Asking if I was coming to their game, their match, their concert, their play. Watching them with pride as they push themselves. Celebrating with them as they win, consoling them when they lose. Congratulating them as they walk across the stage picking up their diploma. Having them come back after their graduation and while in college or the military or the world of work to check in and say hello. All special. All meaningful. Great memories.

I take a lot with me. I worry if I’ve taken more than I’ve given. In a helping and serving profession, I think many of us worry about that. Yet all in all, I’m satisfied that I’ve done what I could, when I could, knowing that I missed a time or two along the way. That happens. To you, to me, to all of us. I’m happy I was able to serve and rub elbows alongside some of the best, some of the very best. About 44 Years! Yes, I think it is time. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
My new book, Betrayed, will debut Nov. 12, 2020! It is a contemporary psychological thriller using some of the same characters from my previous work. It takes place on the Navajo Nation Reservation in northeast Arizona. I will post parts and passages on my author page on Facebook.

Connect with me on Social Media:
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Spiral Into Darkness:
Named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!
He blends in. He is successful, intelligent and methodical. He has a list and has murdered eight on it so far. There is no discernible pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, have no idea they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement.

Caught in a Web:
A PenCraft Literary Award Winner!
The bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area is controlled by MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador. Ricardo Fuentes is sent from Chicago to Waukesha to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer.

Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family. The three detectives discover the ring has its roots in a high school among the students and staff.

Book One of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved.
Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families, but they don’t know it. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them.
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
A 14-year-old boy knows the end is coming. What he doesn’t know is when, where or by whom. Without that knowledge, neither he nor the FBI can protect him or his family.                                     

The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they don’t know one another, the lives of FBI Kelliher, 11-year-old Brett McGovern, and 11-year-old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out.

Photo courtesy of Linda Arney

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Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe