Monday, June 21, 2010

A Tribute to My T.C. Walker Family

6 years ago I faced one of the most difficult times in my teaching career. I was in a low-performing school with difficult children and a demanding principal. I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to continue to teach, preferring any job other than the one I was in. One of my colleagues suggested that I attend a teaching fair for Gloucester County Public Schools. My previous teaching fair experiences were quite overwhelming, but I went in order to gain the experience of interviewing. When I first sat down, I was quite intimidated by the woman interviewing me. However, we hit it off immediately and the interview went great! It turned out that she was the assistant principal of T.C. Walker Elementary School. She even walked me over to introduce me to the principal. It seemed promising, but of course I tried not to get too much hope in case it fell through. I was called for an interview a few weeks later, much to my surprise and excitement.
Although I had interviewed for several other positions, nothing could have prepared me for an interview with 6 people simultaneously! There were 4 teachers, the assistant principal, and the principal all in the same room. Honestly, other than feeling overwhelmed, I do not remember much about the day. My socks were pretty much knocked off when Dr. Thompson, the principal, called to offer me a job teaching 1st grade. Everyone said that T.C. Walker was the best school in Gloucester County, and I felt so blessed for this amazing opportunity. It seemed that God did not want to give up this teaching career just yet. I later learned that I was hired to be rescued from my current situation=)
During my second year at TCW, I was thrilled to be expecting my first child! But our world was completely shattered when we learned that our unborn son had a heart defect. At each appointment, the news grew worse and worse. The final diagnosis was Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, and the options were either a 3 stage palliative procedure or a heart transplant. In our minds we were preparing for the worst, and planning months at the hospital after Bobby was born either waiting for a heart or recovering from open heart surgery. However, what kept us going was our trust in the Lord. It was because of Him that the staff members at TCW rallied around our family. They organized fundraisers to help us survive financially during this time. They leant many a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen to. It was because of them that we knew we could face anything.
Since the plan was to travel to Philly at 36 weeks, they helped me prepare for my stay at the Ronald McDonald House. They provided me with snacks, magazines, books, and even taught me how to cross-stitch and knit. One thing was for certain, I would not be bored! Once Bobby was born, I kept them updated on his progress. They were so kind to send emails and cards, continuing to support us even while we were far away. Upon our return home, just 5 weeks later, at the beginning of April 2007, we received a warm welcome. Bobby had instantly become a Walker Wildcat! They threw a shower in his honor, spoiling him with everything a little baby needs and so much more. One thing that has remained constant throughout the years is the love of the TCW staff members for our family.
This past year, they welcomed another TCW Wildcat into their family-our new son Brogan. Again, my teammate threw an amazing party at his house to welcome our little addition. In February 2010, we were devastated to learn that Brogan would also need surgery due to his sagittal craniosynostosis. Again, the support of the TCW family was amazing. A Bunco Night Fundraiser was set up by some teachers to help us out financially again! Brogan’s pending surgery caused Bobby’s 3rd open heart surgery to be rescheduled for the spring. The TCW staff members rallied around the family, gathering money, creating snack and activity bags for the family, and adding our family to their prayer lists. The days following Bobby’s surgery were tough. But the cards, phone calls, and emails kept me going. When my mother-in-law couldn’t come up to visit, the principal offered to come in her place. Need I say more?
We were welcomed back to Virginia with open arms, dinners, and gift cards. You see, TCW is such a special family because they always seem to know what you need without asking. Although it fills my heart with sadness to have to move away from this amazing school, I feel honored to have been a part of it for 5 years. As I leave, not only do I take away precious memories that will forever be with me, but I know that I have lifelong friends. Thank you TCW family, from the bottom of my heart!

Heart Hugs!
Rachael Weeks