Saturday, May 17, 2014

Mid-Life Crisis or New Chapter?

So I came home from my ride Thursday night to this:

No, I hadn't won a race.

I had reached a finish line of sorts. After 20 years of teaching, I have retired.

I don't think I've been in love with teaching for several years. John Marzion, Clint Weishaar, and a lot of great relationships with kids kept me going.

In the back of my mind, I had always wanted to teach kids with special needs and learning disabilities in the city. I typically liked to work with kids who struggled.

So five years ago, I earned my special education license and started looking around for the right school. I found it in Milwaukee College Prep.

I fell in love with the place. Every staff member, from the principal to the security guard and custodian was completely dedicated to working with inner city kids in a positive, academically challenging environment. It was everything I could ask for.

There was only one problem: I wasn't a very good special education teacher! The position required a great deal of discipline work, and a huge amount of paying attention to minute IEP detail, neither of which I was very good at.

I still created some positive relationships with the kids, and a lot of good relationships with the staff. But as my principal wisely said, I had spent 20 years training to ride a bike a certain way, and this job required a different bicycle and a different way of riding.

And I couldn't make the change, I didn't have the skills. So the job became more and more of an emotional struggle since I was trying to fit the proverbial round peg into a square hole. At some point this winter, I knew I was not going to be back next year. And at some point I didn't think I could make it through the year.

So this winter, I sat down to figure out what I might do. I wrote out a job description of what I'd like to do in the bike industry. I wanted to get more people on bikes, I wanted to develop cycling in the city, and help people learn how to ride better. I wanted to support clubs, create a team. I hoped to make a bike shop the hub for cyclocross, riding instruction, and safe commuting. I wanted to work with the Bike Feb, the city of Milwaukee and other communities to help build infrastructure. I hoped to work with kids to get more of them on bikes

I gave the job description to Vince at Ben's Cycles, and he thought it would be a good fit.

So Thursday was my last day at MCP. I got all the IEP and testing finished and felt I could leave early without big guilt.

I will miss the people in my teaching. I will miss the relationships. But I will build new ones.

This is a new chapter in my life. I've always loved bikes. My passion for teaching changed and evolved. Now I get to use my passion for cycling to help others.

It's going to be the start of another adventure!

1 comment:

  1. Ann Gieschen-SalazarMay 17, 2014 at 4:30 PM

    So proud of you!!! I hope it is everything and more than you have ever dreamed...seems like all the stars are aligning for you!!! Glad my girls were part of the time when you were, all in, for teaching as they learned so much from you!!