Last school year was tough. I had a great group of kids, built great rapport with the students and their parents, but couldn’t seem to make my bosses happy, no matter how hard I worked. It was disheartening and I wasn’t sure I still wanted to be a teacher by the end of the year. I’m not blaming my administration; maybe we were just not a good fit.
Thankfully, I had a lot of awesome teachers and support staff around me, who encouraged me, lifted me up, listened to my frustrations, and guided me. I have found that most teachers are in it for the kids. We are always looking for ways to make our students’ lives better; and not just through education.
Towards the end of the year, I found out I was going to be moved to a school even further away from my home. I was already spending about 10 hours a week commuting. I am not a fan of driving, especially in traffic. Audiobooks are my saving grace, but I’d rather spend the time working, exercising, or sleeping.
The reason I was being moved to a new school again is that I’m a newer teacher, enrollment is down, and they had to cut a few teachers from our school. Thank you, gentrification. I had no idea what that meant until I got to see it in action over the past few years. Tearing down established neighborhoods of the lower classes, and either remodeling or putting up much more expensive homes. So, you push the low income people out (my students and their families) and high income people move in. The high income people typically don’t have kids and, if they do, they aren’t always enrolled in the local public school.
I spent a lot of time praying about what to do. I love working with the kids in the lower socio-economic scale. It’s difficult, but it’s where my heart is at. Yes, some kids are clearly not wanted. And, at the least, those kids are neglected. At the worst, they are abused in some way. Yet, there are plenty of amazing parents, who work hard, love their kids, and do the very best they can for them. I was surprised to find that most parents fall into the latter category. I love getting to encourage these parents, who are often stuck in a cycle of poverty, and often feel like they are looked down upon. You should see the looks on these parents faces when I take them aside and tell them, “I see how much you love your child and that you are doing your best for him/her. I know it’s difficult, but I am here if you need me”. There are so many people who have probably never been told they are a good parent. And they need someone in their corner.
Anyway, I felt God leading me to resign from Dallas. Resigning a job without another one scared me. Right around that time, I heard a sermon about “laying a fleece before God”, which is essentially asking God for a specific sign. Well, my principal came to me in a panic, because he didn’t realize a more experienced teacher was leaving. It was tempting to stay there, in an uncomfortable comfort zone. There were some red flags associated with that particular job, but I’ve got a mortgage to pay and it’s terrifying to turn down a sure thing. I told him I’d think about it. Then, I prayed that my principal would mention the job, or even just talk to me, a few days later.
I’m not even sure I saw him that particular day, so I contacted HR and told them thank you for the offer of the new school, but it’s too far, and I will be resigning. So, I went home and resigned.
The next day, I found out my work BFF, who was a huge support in making it through a difficult year, was going to be moved to the same school. If I had only known, I would have accepted the position at that Dallas school. As I was praying, God told me I wasn’t supposed to go to that school, which is why I didn’t find out until after I resigned. He had something better in store for me. And I wouldn’t have a job until the end of the summer.
I’m super blessed with some amazing friends and family. When I shared what was going on, most of them expressed some concern that I was resigning a sure thing, but they all supported me nonetheless.
Again, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be in teaching, so I put in an application to my local district. And then I went on vacation with my cousin, Joy. We had a blast in Playa del Carmen and look forward to going back! Laying on the beach, sipping a mojito, enjoying delicious food, swimming, and exploring Mexico with one of my favorite people made it one of my best vacations ever.
I come back and no messages from principals. I went back to not worrying about it, aside from the occasional panic in the middle of the night. Mostly, I was at peace about this. So, I enjoyed my summer. I got a lot of projects done. I helped my brother and his wife move into their new home. This involved a lot of watching Benji, their one-year-old. I adore Benji, but taking care of a one-year-old is exhausting! I will always value the time we got to spend together. Benji, if you are reading this, I still feel bad about that bruise on your cheek. I was right next to you, ready to catch you, as you raced up the stairs. I think your body got ahead of your brain and you hit your face on the stairs.
As I started seeing advertisements for back to school and memes about going back to school, I realized I did want to get back in the classroom. I can’t imagine doing anything else at this point in my life.
I finally get some interviews in my local district, thanks to help from an awesome contact (my brother-in-law’s dad). The interviews went well. Honestly, I’m pretty good at interviewing. Connecting with people is one of my talents. Yet, I never heard back from them, even after emailing them. It was disappointing and nerve-wracking.
So I started working on a back-up plan: substitute teaching and getting my real estate license. I’ve always been interested in real estate. I think the housing market is one of the best indicators of the health of our economy. And I keep an eye on the market. I also considered going back into financial services, which is where I spent the first 12 years of my post-college career, but I was hopeful I wouldn’t have to take a step backwards.
I started hearing about jobs in another local district and was given principals to contact about specific jobs. So, I finished up my application to that district. I did not hear a word from them for at least two weeks. One day, a new friend of mine, who also resigned from Dallas, gave me a name and number to contact in the HR department of this district. She had just accepted a position in the same district.
Calling strangers regarding jobs is something I really hate. But, I’d hate not making every effort to find a job I love more. So, I sucked it up, and called her. She noticed I didn’t have the needed documentation of my teaching certifications. She got that fixed and the next day I started getting calls for interviews.
The first interview I set up was for a 7th grade math Special Education position. Keep in mind, I have taught 1st, 2nd, and Pre-k the past three years. But, my heart is in Special Education. I was super excited about this interview. I also got a call for a 2nd grade position which would match my experience better, but I just was not as excited about this one.
I talked to another friend for about an hour that evening, who teaches junior high at a different school. She had lots of good advice. I think it’s important to be prepared for an interview. I also looked at the school’s TEA (Texas Education Agency) report cards and compared those to the TEA Report card of my previous school. I like to go into interviews as prepared as possible.
I arrive at my first interview for the 7th grade position. The principal apologizes for being in jeans, but I tell her, “It’s okay. I’m wearing my interview clothes, because I figured you would judge me if I showed up in jeans”.
She laughs and says, “You are right. I probably would”.
It’s always good to start off an interview with a laugh, am I right? Okay, there are some people who wouldn’t appreciate it, but we probably wouldn’t work well together.
I won’t bore you with all the specifics, but the principal comes from an elementary background and is upfront in telling me she isn’t afraid to hire me based on my background. She, the assistant principal, and I talk about how we have to capture kids’ hearts before we can teach them. YES! Exactly! It really felt like we were all on the same page. The principal walked me out and told me she wanted to hire me, but needed to check my references first.
I was late to the 2nd interview. I did call to let them know. And it went ok – I felt like I was able to connect with the interviewers, but I haven’t heard back from them. I really liked the principal, teacher, and counselor who interviewed me, but I think it’s time for a change.
The interviews were on Friday. On Saturday, I was hanging out with a friend, and she had been telling another friend about my situation. That friend said God told her “I’d have a job in the 11th hour”.
Anyway, I got the call from the first principal on Monday, offering me the job. Now, I’m just waiting on some paperwork so I can go in a sign my contract.
I realize some of you may be reading this and thinking I’m crazy for believing God speaks to me. And that’s okay. I’m just sharing my story and I know yours may be different, but that won’t take anything away from my faith.