Seldom does H. R. Jefferies Junior High counselor go by her name, Melinda, or even Ms. Megna. No, normally it is simply Megna that most of us call her, meaning absolutely no disrespect, you understand. Of course, me being me and with the need to be different, I suppose, in my world the raven haired funny girl is always Meggie…spontaneous, witty, unpredictable, lovable, crazy, Meggie….one of the most caring people that I have ever known…wrapped up in…well, you never quite know what the wrapping is going to be from day to day, only that it will be something totally Meggie.
And that’s part of the charm that follows Melinda Megna around as easily as if it had all been born with her…and maybe it was. From glitz and glitter on her shirt and leggings to cat woman or a 1920s Gatsby lady with a feather boa, neither her friends nor her students know exactly who to expect on any given day; they just know that whoever it is, more than likely it is someone who will make them smile before the day is over.
Today, however, I must admit that she caught me totally off guard by looking like a very demure late 1950s Donna Parker, her hair in a low ponytail and wearing “dungarees” and a pullover of sorts.
Of course, we chatted for 30 minutes about old times before I ever hit a key, remembering my last years in education when Ms. Megna was my coconspirator. I loved working with her because we think alike, we work alike, and we love kids alike. The only difference (besides the fact that she is a LOT more fun than I am) is that while I finally left the field, Meggie is still in the trenches, at least part time.
“I actually started my career as an elementary teacher, and I worked all over the spectrum in that area for the next seventeen years. During that time, I began working on my counseling certificate. I really only intended to take a couple of classes, but I liked what I was studying and then suddenly I had a Masters.”
Megna wasn’t planning to use her Masters Degree, but then Goldthwaite called her, “and I went for an interview. I really just wanted to go through the interview process since I hadn’t done that in a long time, and I think that is important. Then, in the course of talking to them, it suddenly felt like a good fit. I felt like I belonged there and that they needed me as much as I needed them at that time in my life. I spent the next eleven years there.
“And then I became the special education counselor for a coop, and I had a lot of windshield time driving from school to school. In a lot of ways it was truly one of the best jobs I’ve ever had because I didn’t have to put up with a lot of school politics.”
Oh, my! Did I ever know what that meant! In fact, it is seldom the kids that drive teachers out of education, at least not in our part of the world. No, it is normally “that other stuff” that finally breaks the backs of even the best teachers.
“I came to Comanche simply because my children decided that it wasn’t cool for me to be on the road so much and the job in Comanche opened. I was excited that I was able to finish my career in my hometown where I had graduated from high school years earlier. Today, I am a half-day employee who works fulltime, and I love it!
“I’m not going to do anything unless I am having a good time, and that’s just the truth. If I’m not laughing, it’s not worth my time. That doesn’t mean I can’t be serious or lose my temper, but I AM going to enjoy my life.
I love kids, and I care about kids…and I am concerned that people don’t want to continue learning. They become complacent with where they are, and that is very sad to me. I want better for the kids who come through Comanche ISD.
I don’t think life has to be some huge extravaganza, but I do think it is important to be in the know about life, if that makes sense….even though I do NOT think we all have to believe exactly alike.
We are so socially inept in this area and I just believe we need to continue learning. We need to be role models for our kids, never letting them see us becoming complacent with where we are in life. We need to take the time to enjoy things, not always looking at what is wrong…enjoy your children…play games with your kids…alphabetical games…and TEACH them things!
I understood exactly what she was trying to say as well as every bit of the passion behind her words…