Mrs. Taylor, High School South
I was born in Newark, NJ and moved to Toms River in the 4th grade. I went from a big city and small private school with one class of each grade, to a much smaller town with a much bigger school, East Dover Elementary. I had to make new friends, get used to public school, and become adjusted to living in the suburbs. It wasn’t easy, but it also wasn’t hard.
My parents did everything in their power to build a better life for me and my brother, and later for my sister who was born in TR. Dad was a Newark cop and Mom was the homemaker. We lived paycheck to paycheck. I couldn’t always go to the movies or shopping at the mall. My clothes were from Kmart and Bradlees, instead of Macys and Benaton. But, we always had food on the table and a roof over our heads. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t hard.
At Toms River HS East, I was a good athlete and a good student. I was a county champion and state place winner on the track. I played the viola in several orchestras. I was a Girl Scout Silver Award recipient. I was a member of a High Adventure Explorer Post. I did all of this while getting mostly straight A’s and graduating near the top of my class. Accomplishing all of this wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t hard.
The craziness of high school afforded me the opportunity to attend the University of Pennsylvania where I was no longer at the top in track & field or in the classroom. I wasn’t even average. I was barely passing my classes and not placing in track meets. I had to learn time management. I had to learn the responsibility of living away from home. I had to grow up. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t hard.
I started teaching when I was 21 years old. I coached track and field, too. There was a lot of juggling and a lot of growing up. Over the years I worked with elementary students, middle school students, and high school students. I had to keep adapting. I had to keep learning in order to keep teaching. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t hard.
Published April 28, 2021
Ten years into my teaching career at Toms River HS South, I started to build a family. I married. I suffered a miscarriage. I had two beautiful children. We had arguments. We didn’t always agree. We worked through it. We took care of each other. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t hard.
Three years ago, my grandmother passed away. She was in her nineties and she was ready. Therefore, I was ready. The thing I wasn’t ready for, was the passing of my mother less than a week later. It was unexpected. It was awful. It altered my world. I never knew pain like this existed. It was excruciating. It was all encompassing. It was life changing. For the first time, LIFE WAS HARD.
But, life doesn’t end when it gets hard. We have to grow and learn and sometimes look really hard to find beauty, and it may not be easy. So, I started to live my days looking for beauty. Sometimes I find it in a song that I know would have made my mom dance. Sometimes I find it looking at my son’s freckles that are just like my mom’s. Sometimes I hear the beauty in the private conversations my daughter has with her “nana in the clouds”. Sometimes the beauty comes from my students who give me a smile just when I need it or from their expressions when I know the lesson just clicked. Lately, I don’t have to look as much. Often the beauty is just there, waiting for me to see it. Everyone can see the beauty if they look for it. It isn’t always easy, but it isn’t hard.
Part II published April 29, 2021