Saturday, June 12, 2010

Gripping the Grass Roots - Macro Termination (Part 1 With Adults)

Let me start by saying that this was late in happening.  The process has definitely been interesting to say the least.

In the beginning of June, we finally announced to the school community that our program was not returning to the school in the next school year due to budgeting constraints.

Here is our farewell in our newsletter (obviously with names and locations omitted):
With a heavy heart, we regret to announce to the *school* Community that, due to budget constraints, the *organization's* program at the *school* will not be returning in the 2010-2011 school year.
In the past 12 years, we have worked throughout the school, with classrooms and with parents, and have built a dynamic leadership program for the middle school.  But we could not have done it with out the support of the *school* community.
It has been an absolute pleasure working with the *school* Faculty, Administration, Staff, and Parents, as well as interacting daily with *neighboring school* and *community center* Staff.  We have been blessed all these years to be part of such a talented, dedicated, and ever-inspiring community.
Though we will surely miss working with you all, we are certain that the school will continue to grow and strengthen  because of the community you all have created for yourselves.
Thank you for everything.
My boss and me.
Truth be told, that was one of the most difficult letters I've had to write.  It was all heart-felt, but putting it down made it so very real.  But, we knew it was coming for a while.  We had hidden the news from our Interns, which pained us, because we didn't want them to worry or stress out about us.  So, for any Interns reading this now, I'm sorry.  But doesn't it explain why I got so tearful when you all left?

Though we usually distribute our newsletter to each classroom, I knew that I needed to personally deliver the newsletter to several people.  This became more clear when I arrived at work the next day.

I had distributed the newsletters to the classrooms at the end of the day on Monday, and when I arrived Tuesday morning, the previous principal who retired at the end of last year was in the Main Office.  She was mainly responsible for our existence in the school this year, and for that I'm eternally grateful.  I knew I had to give her a copy of the newsletter, if only for old times sake.

It took a lot of maneuvering!  I felt like I was lurking (for old times sake) just to get her attention and to have a moment with her.

Let me backtrack.  This principal is a force to be reckoned with.  She was downright frightening to people.  People would shiver with fear at needed to speak with her, and I've seen many people cry after receiving harsh words from her.  But really, she just wanted you to be direct and not bs her.  Luckily, she considered my boss her personal consultant, and checked in with her frequently.  Lucky for me, she liked me.

So much so, that one day, after a really stressful conversation with a parent about her child performing in the Talent Show, I proceeded to start sobbing in her office.  IN HER OFFICE!!!  Weeks ago, another teacher teared up in her office, and she sent her home to "seek help."  Yipes!  I thought, "Crap..I'm so dead.  I'm so fired!  I cried in her office, on her desk!"  But after the problem was solved, she looked at me at the end of the day and said, "It's nothing to cry over! I'll deal with that parent."

Two years later, as she reads over the newsletter I hand to her, she sits herself down and repeats, "But what's going to happen to *organization*?  What's going to happen?" 

But it was clear that she wanted to reconnect with us when she comes to visit again in a week.

There were 3 other adults in the school that I knew I needed to connect with because they didn't necessarily get the newsletter in their hand right away.

One was a "lunch mother," as they're called.  There's no other way to say this, but she's somewhat emotionally fragile.  I'm not really sure why she latched on to me, but she did.  She seemed extremely sensitive to whatever seemed to be going on with me, so I really needed to make sure that my facial emotions were in check.  While she was well-intentioned, she definitely needed to understand the idea of boundaries.

I tried to catch her that Tuesday, but of course I kept missing her.  The next day she says when she sees me, "When were you going to tell me?"  Reassuring her that my leaving is not a personal affront to her (but not in those words), I told her that I was trying to get to her the other day, but she disappeared when I returned to hand her a newsletter.  So, every day this past week, she's come to check in with me, making sure that I'm okay.  She is also wanting to make sure that we will keep in touch.  I've given her my work email, but I know that building anything more than that will just cause more of a boundary issue.

The other two were paraprofessionals that I connected with when I first began as an Intern.  One is like a mother to me.  We would connect about America's Next Top Model, weight loss, and just life in general.  The other is like a hilarious older cousin with a dirty dirty mouth.  She's so inappropriate, I kind of try to balance her out, but there are days when she's a decent human being.

These are two people that I would want to keep in touch with even after I leave.  In the world of social work, this is generally a big no-no.  Giving out emails or phone numbers is something you definitely don't want to do with clients.  But, as I'm not a clinician and our program has really become part of the community, some of the rules have to be bent with our discretion.

So this is just my conversation with the adults.  I'm going to miss a lot of them, and some of them I will definitely not miss.  But they've all really taught me a lot and have really helped me built my experiences in the 5 years at this job right out of grad school.
Having too much fun while working.

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