Fresh back from a vacay to San Diego with my woman, which included seeing the fam, going to the zoo—which I hadn’t been to since I was a wee lad—and getting a massage for our weary limbs. And eating lots of food. I think I gained 4 pounds, which I will promptly shed now that I am back to the grind. Whilst on aforementioned vacay, however, a glimmer of light suddenly appeared out of the tunnel of my grim existence: I was accepted, nearly a year after applying and being placed on a waiting list, into the NYC Teaching Fellows program. For those not in the know, this is a program that places people without teaching credentials directly into high needs schools and subsidizes their master’s in education while they are teaching. It thus allows highly motivated and idealistic individuals who are looking to transition their careers into doing something for the public good to infiltrate low resource schools. The problem with such a program, of course, would be that many folks quickly shed their idealistic ardor once in such a position, and come quickly to realize the dire reality that is the everyday effort of teaching in the public school system. But I have, by this point in my life maturation process, tempered my idealism with a healthy dose of pragmatism, and I have learned what it is to struggle, to suffer, and to learn from my everyday grind how to overcome, through patience and steady will, those obstacles that are seemingly implacable.
So in other words, I am ready for this. Being as it is that I am an English major, I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to be a teacher someday. I worked in the special education department in a high school as an instructional assistant after I graduated college, and I loved it. But I wanted to get some life experience first before I considered pretending to be someone that kids could look up to. And then I ended up, in the drift of life, becoming a housekeeping manager, and then now, a retail store manager. And during that time, the idea of becoming a teacher gradually faded, and I set my sights instead on a career at a different level of influence, in public policy. But then here I was in San Diego, sitting in a coffee shop checking my Yahoo mail, and I discovered that I had been accepted to become a teacher. It came out of nowhere. I hadn’t expected to hear anything back from the Fellows since it had been so long, and they have such a highly competitive applicant pool. It took a few days of processing and discussion before I realized that this is exactly the opportunity that I need, right now at this exact point in my life. And while I had been taking solid steps to apply to a graduate program in public policy for next year, taking an extra couple of years to be deeply involved in influencing children’s lives is not a step away from that. It is learning, rather, exactly how our administrator’s policy decisions can affect our everyday existence.
So I am extremely excited to be involved in this program, and I am aware of the challenges that I will face in the coming year. But I am excited by these kind of challenges, because I really do love working with kids and being able to get through to them. I am excited by the potential to change myself, to hone my capability as a leader and teacher and shed more of my ego, shed more of my past, in order to most effectively teach.
During the summer, instead of moving into part-time work as I had planned and studying for the GRE, I will now be entering intensive training for the program. So in one way, my life is only going to get busier. But in another way, it will also get more enriched, because now I will have somewhat regular hours, and weekends off, enabling me to finally spend time with my beloved. And because I will not be doing part-time work but rather earning a decent living wage, we will now be able to finally move out on our own and get our own apartment, and finally—after 2 years—take our stuff out of storage, where it has been boxed up since leaving Tahoe in ’07.
It’s interesting how things really do happen just when they need to. My fiancee had been praying—in a non-denominational manner—for me to find a job where I had regular hours, and here it came. And when I applied to the Fellows last year, I don’t know that I would have been ready for it then. The experience that I have gained in my current work as a manager has been invaluable in preparing me for what I will do next. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.