I used to teach school.

on November 23, 2009 in School dayz with 17 comments by

Saturday night, I attended my third Thanksgiving dinner in Nashville.

Good. Gravy.


[I’m sorry. But that’s funny.]

Nashville Thanksgiving 2009 was super wonderful. But more on that later this week.

As I stood in the kitchen and talked with a friend, he asked a question, and within my answer I said, “did you know I used to teach school?” Then I moved on with the conversation, using the teaching thing as just a point on the map to better locate another place.

Teacher Art Show piece. 2007.

Teacher Art Show piece. 2007.

Like “I used to teach school” isn’t a big deal. Like it was just a job, just a season of life that used to be.

It was NEVER just a job.

Teaching elementary school was all I ever wanted to do. The first day in my first classroom, I cried. Because my childhood dream was reality. I cried a lot of days after that [insert shock here]- 3/4 of the crying days were out of pure exhaustion or frustration, but 1/4 was joy, happiness, and just what love from kids does to me.

Here’s what I wish I would have said:

“I used to teach school. I taught 5th grade for 2 years and 4th grade for 3 years. I loved 180+ kids over a five year span and I can tell you every one of their names. I still pray for those jokers, and I plan to love them forever. Crafts were my joy and I sang stupid made-up songs every day. My favorite subject was Social Studies and I actually liked grading papers. I wrote a joke on the board every Friday and speaking of boards, I can write in a perfectly straight line on a white board. We laughed everyday. A lot. And I read out loud every afternoon. My classroom was an extension of my home (and me) – messy, but pretty sweet. I used to teach school. And there are days, like today, when I totally miss it.”

That should have been my answer.

I am thankful [Thanksgiving tie-in? You betcha.] that God took my career dreams, birthed when I was in Mrs. Albers’ 3rd grade class in 1989, and gave them to me. And someday, when I get tired of being a starving artist with a zillion part time jobs, maybe I’ll go back.

Cause a spiritual gift like my white board skillz is a terrible thing to waste.


  1. Face
    posted on Nov 23, 2009 at 5:03 AM  |  reply

    What in the H are you doing up at this hour?

  2. Jay LeCroy
    posted on Nov 23, 2009 at 6:42 AM  |  reply

    Love Ya Annie! Love you blogs. Funny how I think of you EVERY time I see that van at church. Hopefully we can see you on one of your adventures back down to Marietta.

  3. posted on Nov 23, 2009 at 10:21 AM  |  reply

    I would let you teach my kids any time.

    And, um, you like crafts? Can you move in with me? I could give you all the crafting with kids to do and I would make you homemade oreo cookies any time you wanted.

  4. posted on Nov 23, 2009 at 10:36 AM  |  reply

    I think that really is a gift. I wonder if you left to stay home with your kids or what? (Just found your blog, so I don’t know your background). If so, that gift will come in handy so often in the years to come–even if you’re not in a school classroom. Think VBS, Sunday School, scout leader, neighborhood events organizer, etc. Trust me, it will Sooo come in handy!

  5. Lindsey
    posted on Nov 23, 2009 at 11:50 AM  |  reply

    Oh, Annie, thank you for this! 🙂
    I’m a senior in UF’s elementary education program. Lately I’ve been feeling totally overwhelmed by the idea of stepping into a classroom and taking responsibility for 20 kids. Thank you for encouraging me and reminding me that it’s all worth it!

    P.S. At a wedding this weekend, I heard a high schooler say she wanted to be an elementary school teacher because it would be an easy job. Little does she know…

  6. posted on Nov 23, 2009 at 12:49 PM  |  reply

    you are AMAZING!! you could do ANYTHING! <3

  7. posted on Nov 23, 2009 at 12:57 PM  |  reply

    sometimes i think we’re the same person. i too, used to teach school and i too, have my days when i miss the crud out of it. and someday when i’m done aspiring to be what it’s impossible to be, i too, may go back. loved this.

  8. Kathryn Morris
    posted on Nov 23, 2009 at 1:17 PM  |  reply

    Oh Ms. Downs–how you changed the lives and made such an impact on all my children as a teacher! You will always be the BEST teacher Mandi and Chad ever had. You have left special footprints in our hearts. We love you so much! Thank you for that!
    Love Kathryn

  9. posted on Nov 23, 2009 at 1:20 PM  |  reply

    i’ve always been jealous of those who have always known what they want to do with their lives… and whether it’s teaching, or writing, or both, you’re doing it.

    maybe someday i’ll figure it out.

  10. posted on Nov 23, 2009 at 2:36 PM  |  reply

    The fact that God would nudge you toward something outside of what was clearly a calling on your life must mean He’s got some pretty big plans for this starving artist season. I wish you’d been my teacher, girl. I’m certain those little people will never be the same because you were theirs.

  11. posted on Nov 23, 2009 at 5:50 PM  |  reply

    I so wish I could write in a straight line on a chalkboard/whiteboard. When I taught written comp, I was forever writing in a slanted line and feeling self-conscious about it!

  12. Linda
    posted on Nov 23, 2009 at 9:00 PM  |  reply

    Good night. As a person considering whether or not this should be her last year as a teacher, you have me in tears. How can I leave what I love? Yikes.

  13. posted on Nov 23, 2009 at 10:22 PM  |  reply

    Love it. Very few people actually live their dream…Now you are living another dream. Hey, teaching could always bee the butter to your bread.

  14. posted on Nov 24, 2009 at 1:00 AM  |  reply

    I am in the midst of my first year of teaching elementary school and this post made my night. I loved it! And it made me realize that I need to be more diligent about praying for my students. Thanks for this post!

  15. posted on Nov 24, 2009 at 1:05 AM  |  reply

    totally relate.

    Before I went on the mission field I taught for 5 years. I say it all the time. I used to be a teacher, and leave it at that….but you’re right! Its sooooo much more. There are moments that I crave being back in the classroom (and other moments that I don’t!!! hehehe)

    Great to know there’s more out there in my boat 🙂

  16. posted on Nov 24, 2009 at 1:11 PM  |  reply

    Ummm, do you think you could move to Florida next so you could become my boys’ teacher? Thanks.

  17. posted on Nov 25, 2009 at 11:26 AM  |  reply

    You’re scaring me! I’m studying to get my teaching degree. 😛

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