Strength in Community
When I think of community at Sherwood Middle School, I think of daily reminders that I am not in this alone. The beginning of this year was difficult, to say the least. There were many days when I sat at my front door literally dreading going to work. One thing I continued to tell myself before I left that door was, “I can’t let my team down by not showing up to our 8th grade hall”. I realized very early in the school year that we would not be able to get through each day without leaning on the shoulders of one another every single day.
I am a firm believer that God will never put more on us than we can handle—I have experienced this truth more and more with this team. Community for us this year on the 8th grade team has meant more than just teaching with other individuals that went through the same graduate program. We have truly been able to demonstrate many of the “one another” versus in the bible. When one of us it out sick, the others check in and make sure they have what they need for class. When one of us is having trouble with a student, the others are willing to talk to that student on their behalf. When one of us seems to have too much on our plate at a time, the others are willing to jump in and relieve some that burden. We have been hope to one another when all else around else seemed slightly short of hopeless.
I pondered for a long time about whether I should leave Sherwood next year or not. Honestly, my initial choice was based on my own selfish desires to get back to “comfort”. During Thanksgiving break, I felt like God was telling me to remain faithful and remember that nothing that I do at Sherwood is actually for my own satisfaction. When I thought about Valen, Nate, Ben, Josh, Olivia, and Maurice, I realized that leaving Sherwood would mean leaving the strong team I have been blessed to have this year. I also realized that my choice to leave was basically saying I didn’t care about the team or their future plans. My current decision to remain at Sherwood is simply because I’d rather go through the struggle with such bold and loving teachers, than be comfortable somewhere else without them.
This year, I have been continually reminded to be thankful for the MTR community at Sherwood Middle School. This year has been mightily difficult for many of the teachers here at Sherwood. We have been short on teachers and administration due to budget changes, policy changes, and a variety of circumstances. This leads to big classes, extra work, and major stresses on everyone.
When faced with these circumstances, teachers have two choices: pack it in and stick to doing the bare minimum OR come together as a team and pick up the slack. At Sherwood, our eighth grade team has chosen the latter. Our team – 7 of whom are MTR teachers (5 grads and 2 residents) – has fought to make the year the best we can for all of our 276 students. While I am grateful that the classes at MTR trained us to be effective instructors in these scenarios, I am most thankful for our abiding MTR family that has helped us to endure and stay together as a team.
If it wasn’t for each and every member of the team, I know that I could not have made it through this school year. If not for Nate Mulder, I wouldn’t have a tireless, hard-working co-teacher to lead with every day. If not for Jasmine Monroe, our team wouldn’t have the strong, sassy leadership that every team needs. If not for Olivia Husbands, we wouldn’t have the model of positive relationship-building that she exemplifies each day. If not for Josh Berkey, we wouldn’t have the sarcastic comedic relief (and snow-day forecasts) each day at lunch time. If not for Valen Caldwell, we wouldn’t have had the surge in teacher energy that she brought when she joined our team. If not for Maurice Henderson, our whole team wouldn’t have the passion for student engagement in active discussion that he embodies daily. The eighth grade team at Sherwood is second to none, and I am a better person for having served alongside them this school year.
I love my 8th grade MTR teachers because we have an invisible, nonverbal connection that only requires a small look or a quick smile to communicate encouragement, perseverance, patience, humility, and joy. These small moments are what help my often wearied soul. Shout out to the Lord for putting his people around me.