Friday, June 10, 2011

There's always sadness in doing something for the last time...

Thanks to the NC state budget, I was forced to make a very difficult decision this week:  Stay at my current school where my position as full-time technology facilitator is more or less being eliminated or pursue moving to another school where a full-time technology position is hanging on by a thread. This was a very difficult decision for me since I love the people I work with, love my school, and love the children.

I started at Jefferson during its infancy and watched it grow to a well rounded, mature and loving family.  I'd like to think I have given my best over the last 12 years at Jefferson.  I have taught teachers and students new technologies, and hopefully made an impact.
But, it can all come crumbling down thanks to the short-sighted decisions by the "drive by education experts"  in Raleigh.  I keep thinking to myself..."What reasonably sized business does not have a technology support person?"  Yet, we have a school of 1200 students, over 70 teachers, and over 400 computers/laptops and there will be no fulltime dedicated person to support that program?   It just seems ridiculous.  And of course I am not the only one being cut.  There are other critically important people at Jefferson and other schools who are being cut as well, and I am very sad for them as well.

There were many things to consider about this new job opportunity. For one,  I never wanted to leave my family at Jefferson, but also didn't want to end up "between a rock and hard place" trying to teach and support technology in a school so large.   I did not make this decision lightly or without much contemplation.  I wrote out all the pros and cons. I talked extensively with family and close friends.  I went back and forth considering both emotional reasons and rational considerations. 

In the final analysis, I took comfort in a couple of things:  First, I received a heart-felt letter from a parent of a student who graduated from college this May and had remembered me.  She thanked me for inspiring her son to succeed.  That made me think...maybe I did in fact do my best.   Secondly, I was reassured by a comment from a teacher at Jefferson who heard that I might be leaving.  She said:  "John, at first when I heard you might leave, I thought how can we survive without you? But, went on to say: "But, you have taught us so much...I think I can do it now."   To me that comment was a defining moment.  I can leave knowing that everyone will be fine.

Finally, in the last few days I thought about my mother who left her war torn country of Ireland a generation ago with a handful of children and very little else.  She not only survived but thrived in an entirely new country filled with opportunity.  I know that I carry her strength with me, but also know this situation does not even compare the the struggles she faced.

Like my mom leaving her family 3000 miles away, I will miss "my family" at Jefferson terribly.  I will stay in touch and continue to help in anyway I can.  But, I also know it will never be the same, and for that I blame the legislators in Raleigh who had other choices :(  Shame on them!

I am thankful for the privilege of working with such fantastic people for the last 12 years!


  1. John,
    We were ILs together--you at Wiley, me at knew me when I was quiet! We will all miss you, but I can only speak for myself: you have brought something to this staff that can never be duplicated or are the real deal. I will miss the opportunity to be your teammate, but you need to go where your heart leads. Just like your heart leading you here to Winston from Ireland, of all places. Because when it's right, you know it.
    Please keep in touch--I expect to be in the mountains on the seven year plan!

  2. John,
    Thank you for all that you have done for us over all these years. You've been a great resource and support for our tech issues at school and SE will be lucky to have you. I know you will do a great job there.
    We will miss you, for all those reasons but even more importantly, we will miss your friendship and unselflessness. I never knew of anyone more willing to assist others even if you were busy with your own issues! I wish you nothing but the best! Schnabes

  3. Lori MacWilliamsJune 13, 2011 at 6:59 AM

    I do not know you personally, but feel that I have benefitted from your efforts through my twins who are graduating this year from TJMS. Both have developed a love for techology and are proficient as users. Technology drives today's communication and global connectivity and cannot be viewed as anything less than critical when it comes to our children's education. I agree with your position on the legislators in Raleigh, and was one of the parents that did write letters.
    Thanks for your past and ongoing support of our children's future. Lori MacWilliams

  4. I am in awe that a school system already so far behind in technology is actually letting a technology person go. I'm not sure what the folks in Raleigh are thinking (they're not.. it's a redundant statement) but if they think our "town" is going to survive on mills and tobacco they will soon be packing everyone up as it will be a ghost town. THis is only our 2nd year at TJMS and it was SO nice to finally have a tech person at the school who knew how to communicate outside of pen and paper. I am so sorry to see this happen not just to you but to our kids. Good luck to you John and thank you for all that you tried to do for the school