Photo by Nytrell Greenlee
Tarcha Rentz works for the Children’s Home Society of Florida and is the director of Howard Bishop Middle School A Community Partnership School. She is a lifelong resident of Alachua County. She and her husband, Ishmael, have two children, Ieve (11) and Ian (13).
5 a.m. The alarm on the phone wakes me up as well as Ishmael. I fumble for my glasses, and I grab my phone and journal before heading to the living room for quiet time. I wrap myself in a blanket and listen to a song by Elevation or Hillsong. I review notes from my journal and read a chapter from the Bible in the book of Proverbs. In my journal, I list current challenges, concerns and victories. I review my to-do list for the day, and I pray for wisdom, clarity and insight. I pray for my husband, children, family, friends, colleagues, and, yes, our schools.
5:45 a.m. Ishmael is playing music in the bathroom and I can hear him singing. The sound puts a smile on my face, and I reflect on how blessed I am to be married to this man for 20 plus years. I review my personal emails. I glance at my work cellphone to review my work calendar and to prioritize my emails.
6 a.m. The alarm goes off again. It is time to wake Ieve up for school. I count to three before turning on her bedroom lamp. “Good morning, are these the clothes you are planning to wear today?” I ask as I hold up the outfit for her to get a better view. She looks and sleepily replies, “No, I wore that last week.” After two or three more attempts, I leave the room telling her “You get up and pick the clothes you want to wear. You really should choose your clothes the night before.”
6:15 a.m. I iron my clothes along with Ieve’s chosen outfit. I look at my exercise mat and ball and I think I should do a few sit ups and walk in the mornings before going to work. I tell myself I will do it before I go to bed tonight.
6:30 a.m. Ishmael and I review our calendars and update each other on our extended family and friends’ statuses. We talk and make plans. I fix breakfast and Ieve’s lunch. I check on Ieve’s progress. She has changed outfits again. It is not the one I spent time ironing. She is trying something different. It is not something I would have put together, but it looks really cool.
7 a.m. I brush and floss my teeth, and I turn to see Ian now in my bed. CBS morning news is on and everyone is listening to the first five minutes of the broadcast for a quick highlight of what is taking prominence in the news currently. Ieve heads out the door first. Her dad is outside waiting to take her to school. Ian irons his clothes in my room and leaves to pack his things for school.
8:15 a.m. I say my goodbyes to Ian and Ishmael. I arrive on the middle school campus at 8:30 a.m. I walk in the front office and greet the staff. In the Nest (my office) is one of our clinical counselors. She catches me up on the needs of the counselors and our students. She also shares some ideas she has for helping students, teachers and families. Other staff join in on the conversation.
8:45 a.m. I glance at my emails and head to the mall area to help oversee students who are waiting for school to start. I walk around to different locations and chat with a few students, teachers and other staff. I hear a whistle blowing. School is starting and we are encouraging students to quickly get to their homeroom.
9:15 a.m. The school’s morning announcements have begun. I return to my office and answer emails based on priorities I previously set. Every day is different and change is inevitable. Depending on the day, I participate in management conference calls, attend a Systems of Care Meeting, visit city and/or county commissioners, host Community Leadership Council Meetings, conduct full staff meetings and one-to-one staff meetings, participate in conference calls with directors from the other 14 Community Partnership Schools, research and write grants, visit feeder schools, collect and analyze data, write reports, develop presentations, participate in the Education Compact, meet with Community Partnership School partners, assist the Parent Teacher Student Association, do sixth grade lunch duty, talk to parents and students, communicate with board members, address challenges, and celebrate successes.
3:37 p.m. School is dismissed but my day is not over. After school programming starts. What I do next varies based on the day. I participate in weekly steering committee meetings, monthly school advisory meetings, monthly PTSA meetings, quarterly Community/Parent Engagement Events, and weekly Student Leadership Council meetings on the campus, attend and/or conduct fundraisers, speak to potential donors, recruit volunteers, and solicit alumni. Sometimes I have evening meetings at other partner locations such as the school district, churches and libraries. If there are no meetings or the meeting ends before 5 p.m., I get to pick up my children from after school programs and practices.
6 p.m. I am in Mom mode. If it is not baseball season, there isn’t play or band performance, a family night at school, PTA meeting, church, or connect group, I am at home. My daughter’s homework has been done in after school, but Ian usually has some homework to complete. Ieve reads and Ian practices on the trombone, while I prepare dinner. We are currently teaching the children how to cook. They take turns fixing a meal with my husband and me. Ieve loves to read aloud to me while I cook. Her brother takes a pause to help me in the kitchen. Soon, my husband arrives and greets me with a kiss and long hug. He greets each of the children and spends a few minutes talking to each one. Then he joins me in the kitchen and we exchange reviews of our day.
7 p.m. We have dinner at the dinner table. Ishmael and I listen to Ian and Ieve tell us the highs and lows of their day and they ask us about ours. This is the time that we hear about the nice, the mean and the ugly. We hear about the teacher who has been absent and the one who seems sad/angry. We laugh. Sometimes we sing. We discuss sermons, things we saw on the internet, things we want to do and places we want to visit. We turn on the television to watch Jeopardy and keep score on which one of us can answer the most questions correctly.
8 p.m. Ian continues his homework and Ishmael or I check Ieve’s homework. The children take showers and prepare to go to bed, while Ishmael or I wash the dishes.
9:30 p.m. The children are in bed, and we say prayers with them and “I love you” before turning off the light. It is time to work on and finish up personal and/or family projects we are working on. These might involve planning a birthday celebration, vacation, helping a friend with a proposal, researching an idea, reading a book, or preparing something for church. This is also a time to possibly call a friend or a family member without being interrupted/distracted.
10:15 p.m. Ishmael joins me to watch a show. We flip between channels, and I decide on The Profit, House Hunters or Shark Tank. We stroll through my Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook accounts, and we laugh.