I didn’t grow up with sisters or even close girlfriends. So, establishing close relationships with other women was not something that came naturally to me. But I was raised by an independent woman, my mom. Having her as a role model helped me when I landed my dream job as an elementary reading teacher. I admitted to Mom that I still had misgivings about the position because I was to be in charge of six women assistants who had been at the school for numerous years.
Before officially beginning my job, Moyne, the experienced and kind school secretary, welcomed me and took charge. She personally introduced me to each teacher. Within thirty minutes, I realized Moyne was a strong woman and an important ally. I confided in her that one of my soon-to-be assistants informed me that I should not have taken this job. Moyne told me to ignore those negative comments and focus on the students.
The principal showed me the reading room and my desk, right in the center of all the teaching assistants. Our space also served as a storage area. In the corner were stacks of old textbooks, outdated equipment, and discarded furniture. This was not a positive environment for our students or me. All the women agreed it was an eyesore, but according to them, getting rid of it was impossible because they had tried. I met with Judy, a veteran teacher who supported my hiring. Following her wise advice, I recommended to the principal that the room needed to be cleared of the clutter. Within two days, the custodians removed all of it. I felt as if I had moved a mountain.
The first few months as the new leader were not perfect. Let’s just say, I didn’t do well at on-the-job training. Yes, I signed a contract proclaiming to be the one in charge of managing the reading program, but unfortunately, no one else had gotten the memo. On the outside, I appeared confident. At home, my dream job had turned me into a sobbing, stressed-out mess. I was so wrapped up in scheduling tutoring sessions, planning meaningful lessons for our most needy students, and organizing paperwork that I didn’t establish rapport with everyone. I certainly didn’t understand the group dynamics of six women who never had a supervisor before. I just chose to ignore the negative attitudes and forged ahead, making progress with the students.
While I went about my daily schedule, I discovered a select group of women teachers was supporting me. At every opportunity, they let the principal know I was benefitting the students with my new program. At Christmas, they invited me to their after-school party. But I was to keep the details confidential from anyone else on the staff. That was my introduction to the Wild Women Friends (WWF).
The camaraderie between women was unfamiliar to me. But the shared laughter was not. Needless to say, I savored every moment of being a part of such a positive group. They renewed my passion for my job and made me mentally strong. We got together several more times during the rest of the year. What a blessing to have those friends to lean on!
For the rest of the school year, I kept a handmade WWF sign by my desk. Only a select group of us knew the true meaning behind those letters. My students certainly did not. Because, at the end of the school year, one of my students told me how cool it was that I liked the World Wrestling Federation.
My job lasted ten more years. I persevered in my role through a revolving door of administrators, but Moyne was always there along with a core group of assistants that stayed to celebrate notable victories. As far as the WWF, we’re still going strong by supporting one another and adding others who need saving.