Does Oprah have to report to Jury Duty?

I’m doing my civic duty. I am waiting to see if I’m selected to serve on a jury. I want to. And I don’t. I want to do my part. But I don’t want to spend so much time away from the classroom, from my students who need their teacher to help them negotiate “Fahrenheit 451”. I want to experience the process, the judicial branch doing its thing with the help of open-minded citizens. But I also know that my students may grow stagnant without their teacher. Maybe they’ll miss me. Maybe they’ll realize that Ms. Johnson’s classroom management is highly beneficial to support a thriving atmosphere of learning. Maybe they’ll like the substitute teacher more than me. Maybe I’ll like being away from them. Extended lunches. No homework to grade. No angry parents to engage with. No staff meetings. No lessons to plan. No routine.

This may be the absolute perfect, “Am I ready to retire?” opportunity. Unplanned. Unwanted/wanted. My Civic Duty. A chance to really see what it’s like to not teach, to do something else, to re-invent, revive, to clarify. If I do get selected to serve on the jury for an expected two weeks, I’ll know whether or not I’m ready to retire from teaching. If I miss it, if my heart doesn’t pump as much as it does when I make a right and a left turn and another left at 7 a.m. when I turn into the staff parking lot, then I will know I need to stay in the classroom a while longer. If, on the other hand, my mind is expanded and I see new possibilities, then this step-away experience will be clarifying.

Right now, I have to confess, not having to report to “work” until 11 a.m. is kind of unnerving. I mean, look at me, I’m blogging before 9 a.m. in the middle of the week. No bells. No complaints. Just me and the morning sun, and the billowing white clouds, and the trash truck, every day occurrences I never would have noticed had I not been waiting to report to the courthouse.

I wonder, does Oprah have to report to Jury Duty? Is she exempt because she’s famous? Do other celebrities get a pass? Are they more important than a teacher? A nurse? A small business owner? The judge who welcomed us to the jury room yesterday told us that next to serving our nation via military service, this is the only other way we can make sure our democracy thrives. Jury Duty is a privilege, he said. Think of other countries where citizens never get “their day in court”. If someone sues us and we end up in the courtroom, or a family member is accused of a crime, he said, we would want to have someone as open-minded and impartial as us sitting in the jury box. This, he said, is how democracy works. Of the people, by the people and for the people.

I am torn. I want to experience the courtroom, but I miss the classroom. I miss my students.

In a few hours I will get the verdict. For now, it’s out of my control. For now, I will enjoy this brief midweek respite away from the day-to-day.

Life Beyond the Classroom: The title of my next blog?


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