Thursday, February 6, 2014

"My" kids...

Once upon a time, I was an elementary school teacher.

Then an assistant middle school principal.

Then an elementary school principal.

And finally, a director of human resources....

then I had to leave my career when Braden was diagnosed with cANCER.

The best and hardest career decision I ever made. I loved my career, but my priority is my children and Braden needed me 24/7/365.

I have been privileged to have thousands of "kids" in my life because of my career experiences.  First, with the 20 some in my classroom and then with the hundreds as a principal.

Moving to HR was a tough one for me because I had to leave my kids so I had more hours to take care of my biological children. Principal hours are very long with numerous evenings back at school each week. Braden had 5 evening therapies a night to help with his autism and I simply couldn't do it all.

It was a heartbreaking choice, but I also loved working in HR.  Some of my kids would actually come visit me at our district offices...those were the best days ever!

And...I really think of  them as "my kids".  All 20 something in my classrooms and the hundreds in our school.

They changed made me smile, laugh,

bang my head into the wall....

There was never a dull moment and never a day that was the same as the last. It was challenging and fun and those kids filled my life with joy.

There was never a time that I was in the hallway that I wasn't nearly tackled with hugs and greeted with screams of "MRS HOFEN!"

That wasn't always perfect for teachers who were trying to get their kids to walk quietly in the hallway...


Each and every day my staff and I made it a point to check on my kids that were struggling for one reason or another. Sometimes it was the shy kiddo who had no friends, sometimes the "un-shy" kiddo who was always in trouble...

and as a result, my kids became "my kids".

I wasn't always good at it, there were kids that slipped between my fingers that I wasn't able to reach. I still think about those children (who are now grown ups making their way in the world).

Those were the kids I thought about every night when I got home, I worried about them, I was proud of them, I tried to figure out other ways to help them.

So did my staff.

There were also a lot of fun times. Frequently, I would have a child in the office who was explaining what they had done to get sent to me. I would listen to their explanations and then with a very serious face tell them that I would be right back but in the meantime, they needed to think about what they had done.

I would then step out of my office and into the work room and bust out laughing!!

Kids do and say the funniest things.

Like the time two kindergarten boys decided to go into the bathroom and shut off the light and see if they could hit the toilet in the dark from the furthest wall.

I laughed hardest when I called the one of the dads (who was also ornery) to explain the situation. I couldn't even speak at one point because I was laughing so hard.

I think he said made some reference about Ghost Busters and "streams crossing".

But the five year old "fountain" never knew I thought it was funny. It was tough to hide my grin.

Or the time a first grader decided to cut his bangs with his scissors during class. His teacher sent him to me. I figured the damage was pretty much already done and he had his own consequence of walking around with really short, crooked bangs. SO...

I asked him if he had been to "hair cutter school".  He said no and I told him that he was VERY welcome to cut his own hair anytime, but he needed to go to hair cutter school first.

He shook his head and said okay and happily trotted back to class.

His teacher wasn't quite as amused as I was with my "witty" response. :)  She was good with it later on...after I explained.

I had a student who was really struggling with behavior who would cuss like a sailor when he was in trouble. Our psych and I would tell him that he was welcome to be mad, but if he cussed, he would have to stay it the office all day with me AGAIN and that wasn't his favorite thing to do. So one day when he was in trouble, he said...

"Just shove it up your........

desk drawer".

That one required GREAT restraint to not laugh out loud.

And we were SO proud of him for controlling his words!!!!

Then there was one sugar who was frequently in my office, for days, because he simply refused to work.  He was so very smart, but so smart that he saw no need to do things he already knew. I agreed completely but told him it was about complying with what he was asked to do and that is was not about the work (and then we all worked to get him things to challenge him).

He would spend days with me...and to be honest, neither one of us really disliked it. That boy is still my heart, I love him SO much, even though he is all grown up and in the nuclear engineering program in the Navy now.

Using his brilliant mind and...


One of my students could not handle fire drills or tornado drills, they made her absolutely terrified so she became my helper and walked the building to check classrooms and hallways with me. After I would radio in the "all clear" she would radio it in as well.

She is now one of the most confident, independent, caring, loving, wonderful college students in the world.

Middle school kids rarely say anything in the morning. Each day during morning drop off, I would happily say "GOOD MORNING!" to every single adolescent that got out of a car or crossed the street.

IF I was lucky, I would get an "mmmm" syllable back from them.

Except for one eighth grader, he said "good morning" to me every day. I was at a Chamber of Commerce meeting several months ago, and he was now working for the Chamber...still as happy and kind as ever!  He made my day each and every morning.

I love that I occasionally get to watch my kids grow up.  Social networking helps.

They graduate high school, go to college or find careers, some get married, and now they are even having families of their own.

One of my former students who lost her mom to cancer when she was very young just had a baby last week.

I cried tears of happiness for her.  She is going to be SUCH a great mom!

Thanks to social networking, I can stay in touch with my kids and celebrate with them and feel them go through struggles and tough times.  I can remind them that I love them, tell them that they are always in my heart and I'm proud of them!

Educators have the very unique blessing of having hundreds and sometimes thousands of kids.

My kids have blessed me with their gifts of humor, a little ornery, and a whole lot of love.

How fortunate have I been to have had a career that allowed me the blessing of watching the people I spent my days with grow and become the unique and wonderful adults they are today.

That is a gift that you can never adequately thank someone for...

To all my kids....thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives.

Keep learning and growing...

and thank you for teaching me along the way!