So I've been asked a lot, "STEVE, how can you stay longer than 3 years, what about home and family and friends?!?!" Which got me thinking, why have I absolutely fell in love with Woodstock and Mussoorie, and India!?!??! And tonight, for the first time since I've been here, I have called Woodstock my TRUE home!! Everyone knows the phrase "home is where you make it," well Woodstock is my home now!! I went on the 5/6th grade retreat this weekend as some of you already know, and THIS weekend is what made me feel right at home!! I'm a big sucker for hugs.....those of you who really know me know this!!!:) And this weekend made me feel like I was back in Shako, teaching little hitters tennis all over again!!! Here's why!! Those who aren't teachers may know this, but if not I'll fill you in on a little secret: students between grades K-6 love to give hugs, especially the girls!! HOWEVER, they don't just give hugs to anyone, they give them to people they feel comfortable with/someone they trust!! You can say that for adults too, however, we are a little more hesitant (I don't know why) because our bubble is extra tough to break (wish it wasn't!!)!! Back to the 5/6th grade retreat last night and today!! I felt like I was back in Shako teaching tennis because I was bonding with the student's, JUST like I did with my Shako tennis crew!! We played goofy games, HAD RELAY RACES (WACKY ONES), and most importantly there were lots of hugs given at the beginning and at the end of the weekend!! Now beginning of the year, no hugs what-so-ever!! They started to come a little at the end of the semester, mostly at the goodbye banquet!! HOWEVER, for some reason the hug bug caught up to all of them over break, because it's been at least 4-5 hugs a day, 5-10 hugs a day at this past retreat!! And like I said before, for the FIRST time this weekend I felt like this was home!! I could feel the bond between the student's and myself, and a comfort level only a retreat like this could bring out!!:) You sadly don't find that back in the states, because once you are done teaching during the day you go home, have a weekend without students and return that Monday to teach again!! Here, its students almost 16 hours a day 6 days a week!! We do get a break on Sunday!!;) And sometimes on Saturday!! I think it's a real advantage for teachers here to see their students that much!! THOSE WHO ACTUALLY STAY LONGER THAN 1-2 YEARS!!!:) No offense to those who have no choice but to leave!! Not cool!! Anyways, what we talked about this past weekend were things I would not have imagined talking with my 5/6th grade students if I was back in the states!! I mean, teach PE, go home, come back the next day and teach it all over again!! At Woodstock, we REALLLLLLLLLLY get to bond with the students!! And that level of trust is built up SO strong, well those that stay!! Which is so hard because teachers leave so often for them!!! Now back to the purpose of this entire blog why Woodstock is finally feeling like home for me, and why it is the perfect dream job!!!:) First reason is the most obvious!! I can count on ONE hand the number of really bad days here!! And even then I struggle to come up with them, unless I reallllly reallllly think hard!! Now bad days mean bad days, not just really really tired and have no energy days, because those I have more of even though on the inside still loving the day although I may not be as enthusiastic on the outside!!!!;) Second reason is the opportunity to bond with the students, as mentioned above!! You canNOT be a great teacher unless you really get to know your students!! You just can't!! Asking them how are you everyday just doesn't cut it!! Because #1 response as you may know is: "good." Wow that gets pretty deep right there!!!:) You need to get personal and caring with your students!! Here we get that opportunity not only during the day, but sometimes on the weekends and for an entire week during activity week!!! You get to see how they live their life at home/dorms!!! Sometimes in the town having a bite to eat at Clock Tower!! Wherever it may be, we get to see our students for who they are outside the formal school setting, and that's just down right awesome!! Now yes, sometimes you just want to get away from them and not see ONE student, but for the most part it's very fun to see them and if they are the older ones get into some really good conversations!! Which is why I'm so excited for my 3rd and hopefully plus years here, because that is when my 7th/8th graders will start to mature into a mini-adult version of themselves before they go off to college!! CAN'T WAIT FOR THAT!!!:) Third reason is I GET TO TEACH PE EVERYDAY TO STUDENTS IN THE HIMALAYAN FOOTHILLS!!! I mean can it get any cooler than that?!?!?! I don't think so!!!! Our practices for cross country have the views of the actual Himalayan Mountains, can't say that too often/NEVER while running a practice back in the states!!!! Granted you have mountain ranges and cities that are high up, but the diversity you have here at Woodstock is amazing!! Student's from all over the world, for the most part, telling stories of back home!! Also, trying to figure out what they're saying half the time in their native tongue is fun too!!! I mean it can't get more fun then to blurt out something you thought they said and be COMPLETELY wrong!!! Or too try and learn their language and they have to repeat the sentence like 5 times cause you're totally massacring it!!:) And finally having an amazing teaching staff and dorm staff to work with makes life SO much easier and fun!!!! Even if HALF OF THEM ARE LEAVING AFTER THIS YEAR!!! Still not cool guys!!!:) But the relationships and bonding we do, even if it gets busy sometimes, cannot be beat by anything!!! Being a Christian school and all of us having that religious passion or backbone in ourselves gives us all this unspoken/thought of connection to each other even before we meet!!! That's just special right there!!! I can't remember the last time I've had so many consecutive amazing days in a row at work before!!!! Now summer tennis is a given you guys back in Shako, I'm no way saying you will ever be compared too!! Always #1 in my heart!! For almost a decade you were my backbone, heart, and passion in the summertime!! And that's only coaching!! 17 years you were my life/love in the summer!!!!:) But Woodstock as a career will definitely be up there in the long run and for now be #1 in careers!! And yes that may be an OBVIOUS statement seeing it's my first career job EVER, but cut me some slack I'm still a newbie at this career thing!!!:) I can't help it if I hit jackpot on the first try, so sue me!!! And sucks to be you, cause if you actually do you'll find working at Woodstock is definitely not about the money and you will get very little in that suing!!!:) For all of those who have read all of this, sorry it got so long, but for all of those who are thinking WOW this guy is such a phony and I'm full of donkey poop, well I just don't care!!!:) There are 2 people out there that will ever know if I'm being phony!! First is God, second is myself!! And I'm being true to myself, God knows this, and frankly maybe you're just a little upset that you don't have the passion for your job as I do for mine!! Maybe you should find a different career then!! I was very lucky to be born into a family that absolutely loves their jobs and frankly it makes them the best parents ever!!! Cause not only are they amazing at what they do, but they can bring that positive energy home and share it with everyone else!!! Making yourself complete and happy first is the ONLY way you can be the best you can be at everything else you do in life!! Yeah that sounds self-centered, but it's true!! How are you good to anyone around you if you mope and hate what you do day after day!!! Yeah you may be able to "shrug" it off every once in a while after work, but why put yourself through that!! WHEN, you can go home from a job you LOVE and LIVE FOR without complaints and take that positive energy into family, friendships and LIFE!!!!! I know my love for Woodstock has put a HUGE smile on my face day in and day out!!!:) I couldn't think of a better place to be at this point in time!! And THAT is why I would love to be here for the next 5-6 years (maybe even more)!!!!!!:) HAPPY SMILING AND HAPPY LIVING!!!!!!!