Signing the Contract – STORIES FROM SCHOOL AZ

These were my choices:

Check here if you accept your contract for the 22-23 school year_________

Check here if you DO NOT accept your contract for the 22-23 school year _______

This time I checked that I did not accept my contract for the 22-23 school year. I have been a classroom teacher for twenty-two years. The only reasons I have left previous teaching positions were due to moving to another city or staying home with my children for a short time. This is the first time I have not signed because I will not be returning to the classroom in a traditional sense next school year. I will become an instructional coach.

When I checked the box not to return to my district as a classroom teacher, I almost cried. I was filled with emotions I was not expecting. I was nervous, excited, sad, and hopeful. I absolutely love teaching kindergarten. I have been at my current campus for seven years. I have developed relationships and friendships with so many wonderful people. I will miss the people and the students I have worked with during my time in this district, but the opportunity to become a coach is not available at my current site or in my current district. I am getting out of my comfort zone and heading to a new school with new opportunities. The school I will be at has not had an instructional coach on campus in the past, so I look forward to assisting the administration in developing what this will look like on this campus. It will be challenging and exciting!

I have turned in my letter of resignation and checked the box to decline my contract. It feels so strange. People at school are asking me how I feel about it. The real answer is I am not sure yet. I am still teaching my students each day and will continue for the next nine weeks, but there is a feeling of excitement about what is to come for me. I wonder if I will enjoy being a coach as much as I enjoy being a classroom teacher. I am still dedicated to my current students, but I also go to school and start thinking about what I could pack up without being obvious about packing up. I tell people it doesn’t feel real yet. I am sure when my teaching colleagues return and start setting classrooms up, it will feel more real. It will be the first time in over twenty years that I will not have to set up the classroom and get ready for meet the teacher night. It is a jumble of mixed emotions.

Thankfully, I love working with students and working with teachers. I look forward to developing into a better coach and making a bigger impact on students by assisting teachers. I will miss several aspects of being in the classroom but working in a new role will help me to grow personally and professionally. Checking the box was difficult, but it was time to step out and try something new.

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Sarah Kirchoff

Sarah Kirchoff is a kindergarten teacher in the Higley Unified School District. She has over 20 years of experience in early childhood education. She began her teaching career way back in August 1999, when everyone was worried about Y2K. She did not even have computers in her classroom at that time! Since then, she has taught first grade for four years, preschool for three years, second grade for two years and kindergarten for twelve years. She has worked for three different school districts during her teaching career. During this time, she has been able to identify which grade she found to be the most enjoyable. Her greatest teaching passion is for kindergarten. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University. She was teacher of the year at her school in the 2019-2020 school year. Most recently, she became a National Board Certified Teacher as an Early Childhood Generalist in December of 2020. She currently serves on numerous committees at her school including school site council, the instructional leadership team, and the culture and climate team. She is a mentor teacher at her school and has mentored numerous interns and student teaching candidates. When she is not busy with school commitments, she spends time with her family. She has a husband who is also a teacher, and four children. Two of which are students at NAU and two that are in high school. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading books and spending time with family, friends and her two dogs.

Young children need a teacher that is always advocating for them, socially, emotionally, and academically. Sarah wants every student she encounters to realize their potential and she is willing to help in any way she can. The impact early childhood educators have on students reaches far beyond their younger years. Sarah wants to leave a positive impact on her students so they can continue to have wonderful educational experiences beyond her classroom.

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