2004 was my very first year to step inside of a classroom. On August 30th, at Flour Bluff Elementary, I found myself staring into the faces of 23 third graders who would prove to be the near death of me! It didn’t help very much that my very first year teaching I was also pregnant with my first daughter. It also did not help that the air conditioning for the entire building went out. Could you imagine a worse trifecta… first day of school, pregnant, no air conditioning. After loosing all of my breakfast and lunch that day, I thought that surely things could not get any worse. I soon got to know my students and learned very quickly about autism, cerebral palsy, and special needs students who had not been identified yet! It was fight to survive, and I was determined to make it a great year. And indeed, many of those first year mistakes that I made molded me into the teacher that I am today. Those students taught me more about patience and showing unconditional love than any other group of students that I have taught since. I had the perfect notion in my head of what my perfect classroom was going to look like, and they taught me that my idea of how students learn is not always best for the students. I’m so thankful that Pinterest was not around ten years ago… I’m sure I would have driven myself crazy trying to live up to perfectly put together projects and precisely appointed classrooms on a shoestring budget for a school who had very little money.
Quite indeed, we ended up having a wonderful year. We made hand print Christmas wreaths, we read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe right before the movie came out in theatres, we had a great passing rate for the TAKS test, we won the spirit competition at Field Day, and made some wonderful memories that I will treasure forever. I have since moved from Flour Bluff, took some time off to be home with my kids Nathan, Gracyn, and Whitley.
When we decided to move back to our home town of Rockport about two years ago, it was with one goal in mind. Save our marriage, save our family, save our finances. Before moving to Rockport, we lived in a beautiful house in Calallen. We moved into the house in 2008, but after being there for just a few months, we discovered that there was an error with the property tax. An error made by our real estate agent and the title company that would cause our payments to increase by nearly $700. seven. hundred. dollars. And I was a stay at home mom. Ouch.
We discovered that there was a discrepancy in when the title company and tax office had recorded the completion of construction. So at closing, the estimated taxes were on only the land – they did not include the value of the house. So we struggled, our payment went up and we struggled. Big time. I tried to find a teaching job, a part time job… but ended up working from home because a part time job would barely even pay for daycare for the two girls. It was four years, and we went through peaks and valleys until the property tax was raised by the county. That was the fatal blow. We just could not afford to live there, and no matter how desperately we tried, our marriage was put threw the ringer and we both agreed that in order to survive it all that we needed to just walk away and start fresh. So we went through a deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure… something that I never thought would happen to us.
We also went through some major counseling, and over the next year we dealt with the shame of the foreclosure, and started rebuilding our credit and our marriage. It was a rocky and bumpy road, but we decided to move back to Rockport because I could get back into the classroom and we could get our lives back on track.
So in August of 2012, I stepped back into the classroom. As an aide at first, and then by the grace of God, an actual teaching position opened up at the middle school. I was terrified of junior high students at first, and I would be teaching the worst of the worst… the reading intervention program. I had never taught middle school before… could I do it? Could I teach 8th graders how to read? Could I run a program with students who are dyslexic?
This first year back in the classroom proved to be extremely challenging, but I learned that I love teaching middle school students. And the challenges were not student specific. The challenges were intermingled in how to help so many different kinds of students. I very quickly got my hands on some iPads… which helped my struggling readers cover up the fact that they were reading books on a lower level. And over the course of those 9 months, I watched a group of teenage boys who had never read a chapter book on their own in their lives come to like reading. The following year, I taught seventh grade, and I am currently teaching sixth grade. I would not trade teaching middle school for anything!
Our family is about to set out on our next great adventure… the Buttlers are moving to Austin! We have decided that even though Rockport has been a great place for my husband and I to have both grown up, that it is not where God would have us raise our children. We are excited for what this next phase of our lives brings, and look forward to the new friends and memories we will make!