The addition is attached to our gym/office building, which means I was front-and-center watching the construction. My room was right next to the new hallway and it was great to see each stage: the walls go up, the sheet rock hung, painted, the carpet installed. Anyone who's build a house can relate... think of 250 of us anticipating moving in! Our students and their parents were elated and showed up in droves last week to help us move. We moved almost everything - seven classrooms plus a library - in one night and had classes in the new building the next morning. Talk about enthusiasm!
But it was nothing compared to the staff. Years of enduring frozen or burst pipes, wonky heaters, sticky doors, uneven floors, zero storage, poor lighting, constant dust meant a clean classroom with built-in storage and new bathrooms was like heaven. And my own room - although not in the new wing but new to me - is twice as big as the room I left. I was teaching in the old library, complete with shelving pushed to the sides. There was barely room to turn around when my students were in class. Now I have a real desk. With plants! And pretty pictures on my walls! I can walk between desks without bumping into someone!
"It's like we're a real school," one of my colleagues told me. Now, the charter school where I teach is one of (if not the) top schools in our district when it comes to test results. Our staff has won numerous awards and many of them are pioneers in the field of education in our state. We have a waiting list of students dozens long for each grade level.
Yet it took a building to make them feel real. Like they'd finally arrived. Validated.
I felt validated as a writer back when I was getting paid to write. And even then, I had my doubts. "You're a journalist?" one woman asked me once when I was covering a story. "Isn't that what people do who can't get published?"
Ouch. And here I'd thought I was getting published...
Four years later, do I still feel validated? Sometimes. Do I feel like a real writer? *stares at huge rejection letter pile* Yup.
How about you? When did you feel you were a real writer?