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written Thursday, 11/24/2005

Today is Thanksgiving! This year I’m not participating in any festivities. No, not even a Tofurky. Lately though, I have been feeling thankful for quite a few things:

My students

Maybe it’s because we’ve been off for the holidays this week, but I’ve caught myself thinking fondly of them in recent days. As much as they stress me out sometimes, there’s something to like about every one of them (Obviously, some more than others). They really do help make my life interesting.

Having a job

The constant threat of layoff is frustrating, but I feel fortunate to be currently employed. After all, out of 63 original TGNO members, I believe there are only 5 of us who are working at our Greater New Orleans schools. Of course, many chose to leave this volatile part of the country after Katrina, but I know many others wish they could come back and reclaim their teaching positions. Even if I eventually do lose my job, I’ve already learned a tremendous amount in my eight total weeks up to now.

Bonnabel High School

I knew that my first year of teaching would be a struggle, regardless of the school. I had heard so many stories from veteran teachers about unsupportive administrators, backstabbing faculty, and miserable teaching conditions. Thankfully, I haven’t had to deal with those headaches. Any public school has its share of problems, but Bonnabel has provided me with all the basic necessities, and more. Best of all, the administration and other teachers have been as helpful as I could ever imagine. A number of them have commented that they really hope I get to stay. I do too.


I miss my friends in California. My new TGNO friends were helping to fill that void, until most of them had to leave. I’m still glad to have met them, and I’m very grateful that at least Michelle & Nihar were able to stick around here with me. I look forward to reuniting with those who have promised to make their way back here soon.


I miss my family in California, and elsewhere. I’ve never felt lacking of their support, though. They gave me confidence that I will always be okay, even during the worst moments of this summer. Furthermore, how could I have gotten by out here without my local adoptive family, Nat & Joan? Every so often I consider the possibility of venturing solo to another part of the country if I lose my job. Then I remind myself of how critical Nat & Joan were in helping me transition out here comfortably. They’ve provided me with a loving second home, and it sure will be difficult if I have to leave home once again.

Improving weather

Isn’t a “season” supposed to be only 3 months long? I arrived in Louisiana a few days before the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season (June 1). Six months later, it’s about to end (November 30). Finally! One positive outlook about this especially-destructive period: I’m thankful that I had the resources and judgment to deal with the looming disaster, before and after it hit. Many others clearly weren’t so fortunate.


On several occasions I’ve tried to convince my students that the purpose of their education is to provide options. I’ve only recently begun to appreciate how many doors are open to me because of my education, my health, and a little good fortune. How else could I decide to just pick up and start over with a new career in a new state? If it becomes desirable or necessary, there’s nothing keeping me from starting over again somewhere else, with a new direction.

In past years, the “thanks” in Thanksgiving was a bit of an empty ritual for me. I’d love to be spending this holiday with family or friends right now, but perhaps the absence of the ritual is helping me really appreciate all that I have.