My coworker, Kyle, was on the other end of the line. And he was right. A circle of kids were around my desk, each with frantic questions about their papers due tomorrow; students helping me put away the laptop computers were panicking that one was missing; the class clown was about to draw on posters hung on my board. "Actually, I am," I responded, promising to call back. I hung up, surprised that he could tell so much just from the tone of my "hello". Then again, I shouldn't have been surprised at all; Kyle knows me extremely well, and this simple reminder of our closeness made me think how thankful I am of it. If that wasn't enough, when I eventually did call Kyle back and remarked how stressed I was, he immediately asked if there was anything he could do to help, and then followed up that we needed to find time to catch up-- exemplifying how great of a person he is, how lucky I am to have him as a coworker and friend.
Kyle and I were both first year teachers together and our classrooms were across the hall from one another. At the time we weren't a part of the same team, but we spent most afternoons together, lesson planning or grading in my classroom to keep one another company. If I were asked by a preservice teacher for advice regarding how to survive their first year, I'd tell them to find a Kyle for themselves. It was really wonderful to have someone who was also experiencing the beginning of a teaching career, someone to bounce ideas off of, vent to, assure you that you weren't crazy. Over the course of the past six years we've been lucky enough to be given opportunities to actually work together. We coached track together, co-advised student council, and two years ago were put on the same team. He's an unbelievably talented teacher, a colleague you observe with his students and realize you're witnessing a master educator at work. He comes to school willing to give of himself entirely to his students and activities for them, and he tackles projects enthusiastically and efficiently. While we have a wonderful working relationship, one irony of it is that we have a tendency to disagree; what I've found to be so amazing about that is we have a tendency to use our differing opinions to develop a workable compromise that was better than either of our original ideas, or we work so hard to convince the other that we're right that whomever wins has the other as their biggest proponent. I once stated to my administration that I've never collaborated better, in any capacity, with anyone, than I do with Kyle, and that made me realize that he's my favorite person to work with.
I'm further blessed that Kyle is also one of my closest friends. He has all the makings of a great one: he's trustworthy, attentive, supportive, selfless, honest, funny, genuine, busts on me and calls me out when I need to be called out. Getting to know Kyle over the years I am not surprised we are good friends-- we have similar personalities and find each other easy to talk to; however, I am still often reminded, like today, how lucky I am to be friends with him. He's an all around amazing person, the type of guy who makes you a better person by knowing him.
It's that time of year when decisions are being made about who is going to work in what unit next year, and it's always possible that one or both of us will be moved out of our team. This year we are both retiring from student council, and I stopped coaching track last year. It hit me today that these final weeks of school, potentially, could be the end of my time working with Kyle. The thought of that possibility saddens me. And yet I know, ultimately, there's no reason to be sad. We won't work together forever, but in Kyle I know I have a friend forever, and for that I am unbelievably grateful.