More specifically, the elementary school, the middle school, and the high school.
Yesterday I visited Wendell. It's been almost exactly one year since I resigned as the elementary and middle school counselor there. I've missed the people of Wendell every day since then.
I started out at the middle school, standing in my circle. Yes, I can call it "my circle" because it says "Mr. M's Circle of Character" right on the floor; it's permanent-ish. Seeing the reaction of people walking, watching their faces when they first spotted me - it was a huge ego builder. So many of them said they were happy to see me, but truth is, I was much happier to see them. I got more hugs yesterday than I've gotten in the previous year. Don't get me wrong: I love hugging my family. But no matter how much I love them, I'm not going to give/get 500 hugs a day from my family.
One of the reasons I left Wendell was that my repressed immune system couldn't handle the constant onslaught of germs. Of course I could have avoided much of the problem by never hugging any of the students, or holding their hands, or comforting crying kids. But that simply was not an option for me. I love those kids.
In two months I was in school last year (September and October 2010), I used all my sick days. In the year since I've been gone, I haven't been sick once. Of course there's the no voice thing and the arthritis, but I haven't had a single cold or the flu. That seems like a pretty good indication that leaving has been good for my health.