T-E-A-C-H-E-R. Yep, I said it.  It’s like parenting, incredibly rewarding, but incredibly draining.

Unlike most teachers, I don’t get the summer off.  So after a year of teaching, trying to balance going from part-time to full-time work, from married to divorced, from stay-at-home Mom of a toddler, to working Mom of a preschooler, I might be spent. No – there’s no question, I am spent.

But today was a boost to help me get through to my one week off at the end of the month (Santa Barbara, here I come!). We had our awards luncheon today to honor a student of our choosing who really put forth an extra effort to succeed.  The kids in our Glee Club that we’ve been working so hard with over the last few months, put on their first performance to rousing applause.  To see kids from all different walks of life come together, many of them incredibly shy, get in front of an audience and overcome their fears was amazing. The honesty, purity and imperfection in their performance was so touching, it brought quite a few in the audience to tears, myself included.

The student I chose to honor came to the ceremony, and I got to tell her how proud I was of her in front of her Mom and a room full of people. To top it all off (and, to my surprise) I actually got an award.  The way they do the teacher awards is like a guessing game…they describe the award, talk about the person getting it and then tell you who it is. It’s fun actually trying to figure out who the “winner” is – and I was pretty spot on for most of the recipients for the awards given out during the event. Then, my supervisor got up in front of the room and started talking about the recipient of the next award, called “Direct with Compassion”- the “winner” in this case was a natural leader and educator, someone who was willing to have tough conversations with students and colleagues without making them feel belittled…someone who wants everybody to raise their game and more than anything wants to help them be their best. I started playing the guessing game, and pretty quickly realized after she mentioned a few specific situations that …uh oh…she’s talking about me, isn’t she? One would think that I would be super excited at the prospect of getting an award, but I just got all nervous. My heart started pounding and I got a little panicky because sometimes it’s still hard for me to accept praise…especially the kind that comes in front of a room full of people.

I kept listening to the really nice things she was saying about  this person and thought wow, what a nice tribute, could she really be talking about me?  And sure enough, she was. When she announced my name, I kind of lost it.  To be recognized for something I strive to be – direct, with compassion – by someone whom I respect and admire for her energy, direct approach and love for the students — is probably the highest compliment I could have received at that moment.  I walked up to the front of the room, gave her a huge squeeze, took my sparkly blue plaque and walked back in tears to any seat that would have me.

So tonight, even though I am spent, I am also proud and grateful to be able to do what I do, with the people I do it with.