Sunday, May 20, 2007


Well, after 3 ½ years of evening and weekend classes, I am finally finished with school. Friday was my last day student teaching in room 3-P. Now, as soon as I can find a job, I can finally call myself a teacher. (As one of my kids wrote in a farewell letter, "Mrs. H. I hope you get a job as a real teacher someday.")

I am surprised I didn’t cry on Friday when I opened my gifts from the kids. I got very emotional for a minute and then talked myself down, thinking that I didn’t want them to see me cry because I didn’t want to upset them too. But it was a bittersweet moment. I was so happy to finally be finished but was also so sorry to have to let them all go. I told them they were one of the best groups of kids I had ever been lucky enough to work with and that’s the truth – they are amazing.

It’s been a strange week. This is a huge accomplishment for me…and for my family. I feel like I am finally in a position where we might finally be able to get our sh*t together. 4 years ago when I finished college, my mom had to persuade me to have a graduation party. I didn’t feel much like celebrating. Yes, it was a big accomplishment since I had left school after Owen and I got married. But I knew I wasn’t finished - it was only a short-term victory. It didn’t seem worthy a big celebration. I knew I wouldn’t yet be able to begin my career and so it didn’t seem like much of a big deal.

Now I am ready. After 10 years of “post-secondary” education, I have finally finished and am ready to begin my career. I feel ready. I know I am well prepared. And I can honestly say that my “taking the long route” has better prepared me to be a good teacher. But this too has been a bittersweet ending. Finally, I feel that I have made a tremendous accomplishment. I have finished…this is huge. I am now able to have a real career. This means big things…HUGE things…for Sam and Owen and I…and yet I feel unable to celebrate it because…

And all that remains is for me to get a job and this is the very difficult part. The market for teachers in the state of Michigan is beyond horrible. Many schools are laying off employees and, in some communities, they are closing. As of right now, there isn’t even any guarantee that schools will receive the rest of the funding to finish out this year, let alone hire more teachers next year. Many schools seize the opportunity presented by retiring teachers to thin down the staff. This is a tremendous opportunity for them reduce their staff without having to buy out contracts or pay severance packages.

Despite almost daily searches for available positions, I have thus far found exactly zero positions for which I am eligible in this state. Opportunities in other states abound. In fact, I am flying to Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday and am guaranteed to walk away with an offer. And not just an offer of a job…an offer for THE job I want. No settling for a lower elementary job – a job that would do okay but which I would not prefer to middle school English. This is my insurance policy. It is the guarantee that I need to be able to sleep at night. It will allow me to know that, come hell or high water, I will have a job this fall. We can finally begin digging our way out of the financial mess we have made trying to finish college and working at Blockbuster. I did not work my ass off for all those years to work at freaking Blockbuster for the rest of my life.

But let me make one thing clear: I don’t want to leave. I lived in Florida before and, to put it mildly, I didn’t love it. But things are different for me now. I have a family to take care of…and many, many college loans to pay off. 10 years’ worth, to be precise. And have I mentioned that a job in the Broward County School District would pay $10,000 per year more? I have huge responsibilities…bills to pay…college loans…a child to support…a husband who wants to spend the rest of his life making $12/hr. teaching preschool.

The mere possibility of leaving home has already caused me more sleepless nights than I can count. I cannot communicate how much I hate the thought of taking Sam so far away from his grandparents and the rest of my family. I was so close to my grandparents…and I have always wanted that amazing relationship for him. He adores his grandparents. The thought of taking that away from him and from them breaks my heart. I tell myself that it will only be for a couple of years until the MI economy improves or until I have some experience under my belt and am more employable here. I could work on additional certifications so that I can find a job here and we can come back home. But still, leaving is leaving…for one year or 10…or whatever…and the thought of it makes me sick.

And so I don’t much feel like celebrating…even though I had just made one of the biggest accomplishments of my life.

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