Recently I got word that a dear friend of mine was retiring from the private school that she's worked at for nearly 25 years. We worked together at The Master's Academy in central FL for eleven of those years. I can't express what she meant to me during that time. Ann Hayden was actually my boss. She was the head of the Discovery department that included NILD (National Institute for Learning Differences) and the PAL (Program of Alternative Learning) classes. She also taught the Special Education classes at the college that I graduated from.
We didn't always have a smooth relationship. I can remember getting aggravated when she would leave notes telling me to do this or to do that or fussing at me for something. What I realize now, but didn't realize then, was that she was just pushing a greenhorn therapist to do his best. She was almost like more of a mother to me than a boss. I'm sure that fact made it a doubly difficult job for her. It's hard enough to be just a boss let alone a mother and a boss. Looking back, I understand how much she put up with from me. Even though she had to get onto me quite a bit, she always did it in a very loving and patient manner. I'm also sure there were many times that she defended me when others were ready to give up on me.
She also taught me compassion for those who had a disability. She was a tireless worker for those who had learning disabilities or were physically disabled. Her love for the children that she defended showed in her work and the way that she treated those who are defenseless.
Although she was a task master, working with Ann was not always work. There was plenty of fun as well. Even physical labor could be a blast with Ann. I remember carrying a heavy filing cabinet up steep fire escape steps at the original elementary campus. I think we laughed as much as we toiled. Eating out was always an adventure with Anne as well. There was always a lively discussion about the students we had, or the happenings going on. There was never a dull moment.
I certainly miss those days with Ann Hayden. I miss the love that she taught me to have, and the love that she had for me. Ann will always be more than just a boss to me. She will forever be a good friend. Even though we don't talk much or see each other much anymore, she will always be dear to me and my family.
I know that she will be greatly missed not only at The Master's Academy, but also in the learning disability community of Central Florida and the NILD world as well. I know that she will stay busy in her life of retirement and I wish her well.
Mrs. Hayden, know that I will always be praying for you and please know that the impact and blessing you have been on my life is immeasurable. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
This was originally written for a retirement book that The Master's Academy was putting together for Anne's retirement. I thought I would include it on my blog. What I have said here, I've said from the bottom of my heart.