You’ve probably heard the saying, “You can never go home again”. There is another saying that I much prefer: “You can’t walk on the same path twice”. The idea is that the path isn’t the same path the second time, and, I would add, you aren’t the same person the second time either. So my fun today was trying to walk on a path that I hadn’t set foot on in over a decade – a return to the high school where I used to teach.
Before getting my MBA and working in Organizational Development, I taught high school for several years. For those of you who don’t know, I used to teach high school French in a public education system where French was mandatory from grade 4 to grade 9. I taught grade 9. This means that those students really knew that they hated French and never wanted to take it again. Admittedly, some students loved French and would continue to take it through to the end of high school, but, for the majority of those students who sat facing me in September, I was the only thing standing between them and no more French classes – ever.
I now say that nothing scares me – I can face down a classroom filled with French-hating 13-year-olds any day. Nit-picking hostile Executives have nothing on them.
So while the path I chose today did not take me into a French classroom, it did take me to the scene of the crime – the building where I taught my French classes – and where I had not taught in over a decade. Could I go “home” again? There were a lot of good memories in that building – great students, fun lessons, amazing teaching colleagues, great administrators, involved parents, fantastic extra-curricular clubs, and so on.
A lot has changed in the interim, and I got lost right from walking in the front door – which is now the side door of the building. The renovations and additions have been so impactful that the school has actually changed address, and the front door now opens onto a different street. Thankfully, there were friendly signs pointing the way to the main office.
Once in the newly-built main office, I tried to convince a front-desk secretary that I wanted to see the list of teachers and timetable – to see who was still there that I would know. She gave me the blank stare that simultaneously communicated, “Are you crazy?” and “I am the gate-keeper and no one is getting hold of that list without my say-so…” While I tried to remember the names of my teaching colleagues, one of them just happened to walk into the main office – at that very moment! I love the synchronicity of the universe…
Well one teacher took me to another who took me to another … and on and on it went for a fun-filled hour of meeting up with my old colleagues one by one. I like to think that I added a little unexpected surprise to each person’s day, and we certainly exchanged hugs and brief positive memories. One teacher will be retiring at the end of this month, and I was so glad to be able to see him and wish him well personally before he moves out of his teaching career. He has positively touched many lives and enriched them all with his wisdom, knowledge, humour and heart.
The path is not the same. I am not the same. And it wasn’t the same home. But it was a great trip and I’m so glad I took the leap to find my way through the labyrinth and trust that it would work out.
I’m interested in hearing about your own journeys: What path holds fond memories for you? What path would you walk on again if you could? And how would you like to savour and honour that path?