The Last Year

Yesterday we had the first day of Colloquium, our official meetings to signal the beginning of the school year for our university. And I started my 23rd year of teaching at Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas. It will also, for all intents and purposes, be my last year of teaching. Unless the unforeseen happens, or God has other plans, as he often does, I will be retiring next summer.

Officially, my plan is to travel and to keep writing books. Unofficially, I have no idea what my future holds for me. I can travel and write books and still keep teaching. And I still enjoy the classroom. Yesterday I was in great spirits, both because I was looking forward to students being back on campus and I am finally recovering from a back injury I suffered while putting in my flagstone patio. Yes, as my Mom would say, I’m “payin’ for my raisin’ “.

On the good side, at 66 years old, my students still like me (I think), although I have a reputation as a hard teacher (don’t know where that came from), and I still like them. The whole experience is still enjoyable, for the most part. What I don’t enjoy are the committee meetings, the times when you have to get tough with students because they aren’t taking their classes seriously, and the bureaucracy. And yes, I’m tired. If I had the stamina I had twenty years ago, that would be helpful, thank you very much, but back then I was very much making it up as I went along.

I didn’t start off as a teacher, and when I graduated from college, I couldn’t have imagined myself as a college professor. I started off wanting to be a writer, and became an editor to be able to write. Twenty-three years later, I had a master’s degree and experience as an editor and a writer, and they wanted me to come and teach others how to do what I did. And I had the same idea. It’s very fulfilling when I find students who really want to be good writers or editors, but it seems harder and harder to find them today.

So this is my last year. I want to go out with a bang, so I will try to make it my best one ever. I will love on the kids, be tough when they need it, show them compassion when they need that, and leave them with lessons and memories.

And then it will be time to move on.