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Leaving El Dorado


I’ve told my colleagues and my kids, and now I’m telling you. I’ve accepted a position for next year as Dean of Students and teaching 8th grade English at The Congressional Schools of Virginia, an independent preschool-8 school in nearby Falls Church.

Like Voltaire’s Candide (blogged about by some of my tenth graders this year), I am leaving a fabled land of riches. Diamonds aren’t strewn on the ground like pebbles here at TJ, but you can’t spit without hitting a remarkable student or teacher.

I’m blown away daily by the eagerness and ability of these kids, and by the willingness of my colleagues to engage in dialogue with the sincere goal of making this the best of all possible educational worlds. I wish that, like Candide, I could leave with a string of large red pack sheep stuffed with priceless yellow mud and other rarities of High Tech High.

My destination, fortunately, has its own riches, tucked away on a lush forty-acre campus complete with horses, a swimming pool and a ropes course. Just like at TJ, there’s a dynamic leader, a diverse student body, and a committed faculty. What draws me is the chance to take on a new role in my career. After fifteen years in the classroom I want to help run a school. A nice raise and an entrepreneurial environment that doesn't exist in public schools sweeten the pot.

Being at TJ has upped my game. Which is a good thing, because in addition to the challenges in moving from public to private, secondary to primary, and teacher to administrator, my new job will include starting an academic summer school and developing a program for student teachers in collaboration with a local university.

In my spare time, there is a 1 in 16 chance that I will train for the New York Marathon (thus 15 in 16 chances that I’ll collapse on the back deck with a beer). If my twin brother and I don’t both get in via the online lottery, we’ll have to find some other way to observe our upcoming 40th birthday.

The Eduholic in me has been staying up nights composing an ode for the end of school luncheon. I’ll cherish memories like making a canoe with a Waterfall and eating lunch every day with my own 10th grade English teacher, Mary O’Brien, still going strong after 30+ years.

Meanwhile in the dad department, it’s pool time. I took my rambunctious three-year old to Target yesterday for a Spiderman swim singlet with so much flotation it makes him look more like the Hulk. We can now exhale when he runs around near the deep end filling his water rocket. And I feel warmed by the circle of life to see my seven-year old as a Bluefish, learning his strokes on the same swim team that was the center of my own young summers when I was a kid.

After all their adventures, Candide and his pals ended up exercising their talents at humble tasks from cooking to carpentry. “All events are linked together…” observes Pangloss, the hero’s irrepressible sidekick. “That is well put,” Candide observes, “but we must cultivate our garden.” And so I putter on, warm in the sun, to the next loamy patch.


We'll miss you! Best wishes for a successful sojourn at your new school!

Wow Emmet! Sounds ideal. Good luck with the new position and the marathon.

Hi Mr. R,
I'm sad that you're leaving TJ and I won't be able to say hi to you in the hallways next year, but congratulations on your new post! =]
I hope you have a lot of fun, and I'm sure that this will open lots more opportunities for you.
Don't forget us!!!

Dear Emmet--Be sure you actually teach the Hulk to swim. Flotation devices can be a cause of drowning if the kid thinks he floats.

All the best in your new job, and remember that even the best writers need editors (I'm thinking of sewn/sown in a recent blog). Happy teaching amd enjoy your next 15 years!

Mr. R,

I think I can safely say that your class was one of the most enjoyable, laid back experiences I've had at TJ so far. Not to say it was easy (far from it, I had to comfort one of your crying freshmen today after she discovered she had a B+ in your class), but I think you offered an entirely different atmosphere and take on English (and learning in general) than almost anyone else at this school.

Don't forget us too quickly, and make sure you come back and visit (and gloat about how amazing your new job is). Oh, and make sure you make your kids do the writer's notebooks, just for the sake of inflicting more pain than you normally do.


PS. You're turning 40? My gosh, I had no idea you were so old :P

Since you and I are strangers, I feel at bit at odds posting a comment about this recent news, but after checking your blog once a week for several months, I guess I'd like you to know that I value what you've shared. Now that you won't be in the classroom, I will miss those weekly insights, but hopefully you'll have other experiences to add to your blog.

I wonder about the National Boards--will you be able to pursue your certification? Maybe go after the NB for administrators?


hey emmet-

i am at the beach with will and googled you...found your handsome face and great blog! too bad you are spending the holiday on an island without cars, huh? this is the first i've heard of your new job! what school? great you will still teach a little. sounds like a great fit for you. how exciting. c.a.l. can go to balduccis more! yes, stop the cynical admin jokes. can't wait to see you. email me with more details. hi to gang 4 me. love cousin suzie

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Recent Comments

  • suzie aragona: hey emmet- i am at the beach with will and read more
  • connie: Since you and I are strangers, I feel at bit read more
  • Hannah Clark: Mr. R, I think I can safely say that your read more
  • Ella Wilcox: Dear Emmet--Be sure you actually teach the Hulk to swim. read more
  • Jane Hu: Hi Mr. R, I'm sad that you're leaving TJ and read more




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