Cedar Shoals High School is many things. To some it is a school, to others a workplace, but to Amit and Caroline Bharucha it’s home.
“There are difficulties at Cedar as there are within any household, but what makes Cedar home is really the lifeblood of the teachers and students that exist in the school system, ” math department chair Amit Bharucha said.
Despite having many connections to Cedar, the Bharuchas decided not to return after the 2017-2018 school year. Prior to leaving, Amit taught geometry for eight years and Caroline taught French for seven. After two years of working in Barrow County, they’ve made the decision to return to Cedar.
“Cedar had gone through some unpleasant times, and I felt that I needed to go away and regroup,” Caroline Bharucha said. “It was affecting me personally. It’s a lot of stress to go through all of this and the change of leadership didn’t help.”
The decision to leave was not easy. The students and teachers of Cedar were not the problem. At the time, they felt many of the decisions being made were negatively impacting the school. Their intention was never to leave Cedar permanently, but to take the emotional and mental break they needed.
“The situation continued to frustrate me, being in a position of leadership at the school and even at some levels in the county. A lot of things were changing but not for the positive, and whenever positive change was about to take hold, it was somehow strangled and taken apart,” Amit Bharucha said.
Caroline took a job as a Spanish teacher at Westside Middle School. While she speaks positively of the Barrow County school system, the experience of going from high school to middle school left her frustrated.
“It was really a shock to my system: anywhere from the schedule, to the organization of a middle school, to having to deal with a different age group. I went from being an academic teacher to being a connection teacher, which really puts you at the bottom of the totem pole,” Caroline said. “Nobody really takes you seriously, not even the adults in the building.”
Amit took on a very different role from his previous one. He became a district Math Content Specialist for Barrow County. Although Amit enjoyed his new job, getting paid more and having more freedom, he still decided to return to Cedar.
“I love Barrow County, but it’s not my home. I live in Clarke County, two minutes from Cedar Shoals. My stepdaughter goes to Cedar. We have a very strong connection to this school, and that is far more valuable than any position or even money in many cases,” said Amit.
For the Bharuchas, the Cedar faculty is one of the most supportive and loyal groups of coworkers they’ve ever had.
“When it does hurt and when it does get difficult, the thing that Cedar has always had is a beautiful core of really powerful and great teachers who’ll always have each other’s backs,” Amit said.
“When you feel that support, that’s what home feels like. Even when you are doing well, or even when you’re not doing well, you know that there is somebody there that can either help you or joke around with you. It feels like an extended family when you see the people that you’re working with,” he said.
After their two years outside of Clarke County, Amit and Caroline feel that many changes at Cedar are happening for the better. In the past, they feel that many things at Cedar, like it’s amazing programs have been overlooked.
“We are all schools that need a lot of improvement, and we are going to work very hard on that, but there’s a lot of success that goes unnoticed and that’s unfortunate,” Amit said.
For the Bharuchas, one visible improvement was the new administration. Derrick Maxwell, the former principal of Cedar, was one of the changes they felt was for the better.
“Mr. Maxwell was a huge part of my decision to return. He pushed me very heavily to come back. Any and every chance he got, he was offering me a position to come back, which was nice,” said Amit.
Finally returning home, Amit and Caroline are excited to be back, ready to conquer this new school year.
“We were asked to explain our anxiety and fears about this new year and I said ‘no, I have none, I’m home, I know what to expect, I know what I am doing, these are my people’,” Caroline said. “It was time to come back to Cedar. It was definitely time.”