By Deanna Law
Special to the Independent
Editor’s note: The following is from Deanna Law, a longtime teacher/administrator at Hopkins School who recently submitted her resignation after taking a leave of absence prior to the 2019-20 school year and moving to Montana.
Twenty years ago, when I began my journey as an educator in Hopkinton, I had just graduated from college and was ready to take on the challenges and rewards of being in the classroom. How fortunate I was that day when Hopkinton took a chance on me. It was the start of an incredible career for which I am forever grateful. Throughout the years I’ve been able to connect with this community in ways well beyond what I had imagined. Students, families, administrators, colleagues, friends and community members laid the foundation for me, so when the opportunity came to embark on a new chapter in my life, I had the tools and support to be able to do so confidently.
Teaching is and will always be a passion of mine. The work isn’t easy (especially this year as you all know too well) but the impact lasts a lifetime. My students are the reason I had the courage and determination to make a change in my own life. My teaching was always focused on academics, of course, but more importantly it was about giving my students the space and opportunity to explore, to make mistakes, to reflect and grow, to learn the value of teamwork and leadership, to take risks, and to appreciate the simple things in life. Two years ago, I decided to “walk the walk,” as they say, and trust my instincts.
After finishing my 20th year of teaching in 2019, I packed up my life in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, said many tearful goodbyes to family and friends, got in my car and drove cross country to Montana to try something new. As I sit and write this at the start of 2021, I am in awe that a year and a half has already transpired. I took a chance and bought a restaurant with a friend right outside Glacier National Park. Even though this opportunity was clearly outside my comfort zone, my mind was open and it just felt right. There were no guarantees or assurances that it would work out well or that I’d even be happy. Luckily for me, I listened to that tiny voice deep inside and followed my gut. I am happier than ever and enjoying all that comes with a new venture (even amidst a pandemic). I’ve learned how similar running/owning a business is to teaching. It’s a perfect example of how core skills apply to all aspects of life!
Was it stressful and scary and overwhelming? “You betcha!” or “Boy howdy!” as they say out here. If I’m being honest, it still is, but I continue to smile and regret nothing. You know it is the right decision for you when you feel that sense of calm and peace, and can embrace the newness with excitement. Obviously, the downside is not being around family, old friends and my Hopkins home, but I thank all of you for allowing me to grow and challenge myself. I know I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the lessons learned and the experiences I’ve had over the past 20 years.
If you learn nothing else from my experience, please take this with you: Be adventurous and let your heart and passions guide you. Don’t hesitate to try something new and don’t settle for the norms and expectations you feel might be placed on you. It is never too late to make a change or a detour in your plan. Seize those moments of inspiration and curiosity, and listen to that voice inside of you! Last but not least, simplify your life and enjoy the beauty that will be uncovered.
Words cannot even begin to express my gratitude for Hopkinton, Hopkins School in particular, and all the students and families who, some without even knowing it, played a part in my journey out west. My time as an educator in Hopkinton has come to an end, but the memories will stay with me forever. Thank you for believing in me. I will continue to be a proud member of the Hopkinton community. You are all doing incredible work, even in these most challenging times. Always know that you have a big fan out in Montana.
Always remember our class chant:
If you say, “I can’t,” you won’t.
If you say, “I quit,” you lose.
If you say, “I’ll try,” you might just succeed.
Only YOU have the power to choose!
I’m in the process of creating a blog (simplyslippers.net) to share my ongoing thoughts on life’s journey. Be on the lookout for it as a way for us to stay connected! Also, if you’re ever near Glacier National Park, make sure you stop by and say hello.