August 18, 2008

Dear High School Hikers

    You may have already heard that I left Hawaii for my hometown Chicago.  I knew for some time last spring that I would need to return to the mainland but didn’t want to talk to any of you about it, because saying it aloud made it a reality.  I also didn’t want to be known as just another mainland teacher who stayed three years and left.  I didn’t want to be a statistic.  Leaving Hawaii was not my choice and I did everything I could to stay but was forced to return to Illinois to fulfill a scholarship commitment.  When I got my undergraduate degree, there was a teacher shortage and the state paid for my entire college education.  In turn, I need teach in Illinois for two years.  If I stayed in Hawaii, I would need to pay back all four years of my college tuition and this was not a sensible option.  I had a very hard time leaving and already miss the islands terribly.   I hope to return to Hawaii after fulfilling my two-year commitment.
    I want to thank you all for welcoming me into your wonderful organization.  The time that I spent as the Campbell Hiking Club Advisor and High School Hikers member enhanced my life, taught me new values, made me a better teacher and overall shaped me into a better person. I value all of the relationships that I had with students and all of you who devoted so much of your time to provide fun and educational activities for our kids.  Of everything that I experienced in Hawaii, I value my time with High School Hikers the most.  I promise to stay as involved as I can be and support High School Hikers in any way that I can.  I am planning on visiting as often as possible and being involved in High School Hikers activities whenever I can.  Please keep me on your email list.  Even though it makes me quite sad and homesick to read your messages, I would like to be updated on all of the wonderful things that you are all doing.
    I just started a new teaching job at the University of Chicago’s Charter School.  It is public college prep. school for African American students in underprivileged neighborhoods.  It is a very progressive inner-city school and so far I am loving it.  I have put in a request with my director to start an Environmental Club after school.  There aren’t many hikes in or near Chicago but I hope to organize a couple of trips and several environmental awareness programs within the school.  I got a great little apartment in Hyde Park near the University, very close to my school and right on Lake Michigan (which could never compare to the pacific but I had to do the best that I could!) Things are working themselves out but I miss Hawaii and all of you terribly.
Thank you again for everything.  Your leadership, friendship and unconditional devotion make such a difference in the lives of the adults and children that you work with.  I love and respect each of you very much! Please, please keep in touch. I hope I can see all of you soon.


Carrie Joy