Saturday, April 26, 2008
My nerves got the better of me this year. Knowing I was still the newbie in the SPED department at my high school and knowing that we were down in enrollment and facing huge budget cuts as a consequence and knowing that we had a new principal that was basically pretty unaware of my capabilities, I kept waiting to hear that my position as collaborative teacher in the Health Community was in jeopardy -- or, in fact, was being eliminated.
I finally asked the SPED coordinator in early April what the rumor mill was saying and she replied, "I've not heard anything at all." The same sentiment was echoed by the school psychologist and the coordinator for the Health Community. Still I fretted and stewed and prepared myself to hear the worst. I'd been worrying since February.
At Monday's SPED meeting, the central office honchos were in attendance and it was announced that just as last year's offer to trade-off of two paraprofessionals to retain me as a full time SPED teacher had been successful, the department would like to make the same offer again for next school year. This time to add a NEW SPED teacher to the ranks.
To my delight, amazement, and utter joy, when the SPED department head mentioned my name for the first trade-off, the entire department burst into applause - and one woman even cheered "And a damn fine trade it was, too!"
So -- if the new trade is accepted -- and a new teacher comes on board -- next year I won't even be the newbie on the team. My position was never in jeopardy this year so all my worrying was just in my head, and even better, my coworkers like and respect me.
I think back to two summers ago when in May my construction job was being eliminated from under me and I was in such angst that I actually considered going back to a career -- teaching -- that I had left with finality 16 years earlier. I look at the post in August of 2006 where I wrote that I had been turned down for three different SPED positions in three different schools and that I was not going to interview one more time for another teaching job. And I realize, with great humility that I had to learn to be patient and have faith because destiny or God or fate would eventually deliver right into my lap just exactly what I needed.
Thank God I went to that one last interview that in retrospect, now that I've seen the staff at the other schools, was actually the ONLY PLACE I would have wanted to teach. Thank God that when I walked in the door of that high school I met two caring, gentle, competent professionals (the principal and the SPED head) who believed that a 60 year old woman could still meet the challenges of working with disadvantaged urban high school youth AND learn new teaching techniques in the bargain. Thank God my hubby agreed to help meet those challenges with me and provide physical support at home.
I can honestly say that I've never been happier or more satisfied in my professional life. I get physically tired and it's hard by late April to climb out of bed at 5 a.m. five days a week. I'm still building up resistance to all the childhood diseases. This year I actually used up every single one of my sick days. I dislike going back to grad school for further certification. But. B U T! The kids are everything! My days at school are worthwhile, fulfilling, and challenging -- never, ever boring. My grad school is competent and tries hard, mostly, to understand the demands of full-time teaching along with the responsibilities of a home life. My "A average" goes a long way to mitigate my dislike of school -- and every once in awhile I actually come away with new and valuable information. My coworkers are the best in the district. The district pays a fair wage and has a central office staff that respects teachers.
I have next year to look forward to. I'm extremely grateful -- and proud! This is where I was meant to be and what I am actually best at doing.