new kid

I walk down a hall of palm trees to get to the cafeteria from my office at my new school.

Sometimes I see lizards. Or kids playing floor hockey in the outdoor covered gym. Sometimes I see Jeff in his cowboy hat speaking enthusiastically to an adorable group of first graders. Or twelve ladies with scissors cutting the little patches of grass by the performing arts center.

I walk down a hall of palm trees.

Designed to let air flow through the open campus, my new school is a lush, green, pristine oasis in the middle of  noisy, dusty Chennai.  The structures are simple and the grounds are gorgeous.

It is a truly beautiful place for students to learn. The kids are settling in to the new school year and the crazy marathon of school mania is in full-swing: spirit week is underway, progress reports are due, meetings, meetings and more meetings, homecoming this Friday, big swim meet on Saturday. School is school no matter where you are in the world.

I am still finding my bearings.  After nine years of being Glam and knowing the intimate details of my students lives at Classical, being new is…hard. I had grown used to having answers, my phone ringing off the hook, to walking down the hall and noticing a scratch in the paint that wasn’t there the day before.  I am used to knowing the name of every single kid in the building and likely knowing their mom’s name, their address and what their loves and hopes and fears were.

And now, I am new.

I ask a million questions and can go an entire day without my phone ringing.  I have a mere 104 students on my caseload. I am slowly learning each of their names and even know a thing or two about a few of their dreams for the future. I am Ms. McGlamery or Ms. Susannah or Ms. I’m-sorry-I’m-not-sure-of-your-name-yet and I speak too quickly and use too many colloquialisms and idioms for non-native English speakers.  I am challenged and on my learning-edge and so grateful to be in a space where I feel supported while I am completely lost.

I remind myself that I was once new at Classical.

I remind myself that my relationships with DaJavon and Jelan and Ashleigh and Alex grew over years, that I was just plain Ms. for months, that my kids were once kids that looked at me with skepticism and that Farron only started calling me Glam-Glam because calling me Susannah was awkward at school and we were too close for the whole Ms. McGlamery thing.

On the days when I am drowning in questions, I just need to sit for a while with students to find my footing again… because the new is kind of amazing. And the new kids…are totally amazing.

My kids have lived in places I dream of visiting: Kuala Lumpur, Sao Paolo, Budapest, Delhi, Seoul.  A majority speak more than one language; many are learning English while swimming in the deep end of AP classes and the many demands of a rigorous academic program.  Some of them leave school at 4:00 only to go to another school where they study their native language and prepare for college entrance exams until 9:00 at night before going home to do homework.  My kids are from Korea, Malaysia, India, England, France, Italy, America, Japan, Indonesia. They wave or bow or thank me each time they leave my office. They are vibrant and quiet and stressed and reflective and wonderful and trusting.

My new kids are slowly and quietly working their way into my heart. In them I see the same excitement for life, the same passion for learning and the same desire to trust that I found in my Classical kids.

Sanjay reminds me of Marco.  Naranjana laughs like Asha.  Dongsu makes me think of Marcel when he’d linger after reading group to tell me something sweet about his sister.

My kids in Hartford. My kids in Chennai…Lucky me to have all of these amazing people in my life.

Tropical, global-nomad Glam-Glam is in full effect.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Teri Allen
    Sep 09, 2013 @ 10:34:01

    Ah Ms. Keep breathing and keep writing. It is a good way to stay grounded. When it all seems wildly different remember that is the same moon in the night sky. Know you are held in heart by many. Peace Teri Allen


  2. petermcglamery
    Sep 09, 2013 @ 11:12:29

    A lovely Sister, relayed this interesting blessing to me just last week. I think it could apply to you too, Susannah… “May God be between you and harm… And all the empty places you must walk.” Yours sounds abundantly full. “It is our Light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”
    Try to take more photos of people’s faces… People… I know it’s not easy… But those are your best ones… They love you so much! It’s easy to see.
    Love you!
    Uncle Pete


  3. thinkingaboutwords
    Sep 09, 2013 @ 21:09:45

    Beautiful. Just like you.


  4. Jaime
    Sep 09, 2013 @ 21:09:51

    You go, Glam Glam. I’d love to see pictures of your scool.


  5. Molly McGlamery-Pickens
    Sep 09, 2013 @ 21:26:50

    I love you Susannah!! You are such a neat woman!


  6. De Howard
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 10:44:44

    Susannah, Denise was kind enough to share your blog with me. I am so happy to be able to check in on you and see that you are doing well. Today is a good day and tomorrow will be even better! No matter where you are, you are still at Classical in hearts and memories. Love, De


  7. Kerry McVaney
    Sep 28, 2013 @ 10:38:33

    That’s amazing Susannah! You’ll find your bearings alright… I have total faith in that! Miss you and love you and think about you all the time. Garrett sends his love too 🙂


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