Letter to the High School Faculty.

I sent this letter to our high school faculty on Wednesday, the second to last day of school.

By the time you read this I will be on my way to New Hampshire where my husband works for the summer. I wanted to thank everyone for such a great year of teaching and learning. 2021-2022 was by far the hardest year I have ever experienced as a teacher. I almost quit a million times. If I didn’t have an eighth grader (now tenth grader), not to mention the support of my colleagues and administration, I would have walked out the door. LHS lost 17 teachers last year, several of them mid-year, and I could have easily been number 18. But I am glad that I stayed because 2022-2023 has definitely been one of my best years ever. A huge part of that was the recognition from all of you for voting me the Lafayette High School Teacher of the Year. The process of applying for district level (which I won) and state level (which I did not win, oh well!) gave me the opportunity to reflect deeply on why I do what I do. It has been a gift to hone my skills as a teacher and as a teacher leader within the walls of Lafayette High School.

As not only a colleague but also as a parent, I appreciate all of the efforts you put into teaching.  A year from now, our eldest will finish his degree in computer science with minors in math and art from the University of Mississippi.  He had the best of the best when he sat in classrooms overwhich you now preside, not to mention grades prek – 8. Our youngest has a few more years at Lafayette before he spreads his wings to the next level, and I am confident that he too will be in classrooms led by caring teachers with strong content knowledge who will inspire him to do his best.

Many times when I am discouraged, I remember not only my reason for being but also that Lafayette High School teachers can walk out of this building and land more lucrative jobs (teaching or otherwise) in a matter of days. That confidence propels me forward.  Some of you will do just that, leave Lafayette for more lucrative teaching jobs or for more lucrative non-teaching jobs, and many have come before who have gone on to do the same. I applaud your initiative and bravery to head in a new direction, and always remember that in the time you have been here you have given so much to “The Ship” that can not be replicated.   

I have been teaching longer than a lot of you have been alive. (33 years!)  The days are long but the years are short.  As you enter the summer months, spend time thinking about how and why you chose this path and why you chose Lafayette.  Maybe it’s because teaching chose you, or Lafayette was the only one hiring in your subject area.  Both of these apply to me.  But nevertheless, we are here for a reason, and we must strive to make our surroundings the best they can be.  Enjoy your time teaching.  Make connections with your students and colleagues.  Bring the energy.  Be the light.    

Have a great summer whether it be working on your side hustle, sitting by the pool, or chasing your own kids around, and I’ll see you IN JULY!

Virge Cornelius