Sunday, April 15, 2012

my unwanted acquaintance, part 1

Warning: this blog is going to be very long. Because of that, I have decided to break it up into parts. This is Part 1. I'll try and post every few days till the whole story is done.

Basically the time has come for me to write out, in journal fashion, something that I have been struggling with for the past seven and a half years. I've never brought it up before because I enjoy using my blog as a light-hearted place. I like to write about my job or how cute my nephews are or what's happening in pop culture. I don't usually write about the hard stuff.

But the older I get, the more I am realizing life is not that way. Life is good AND hard. My blog should reflect my life - the good and the bad. The ups and the downs. The joys and the struggles. I am glad there are people out there who might like to read what I post, but these posts will truthfully be more for me. To process. To think. To reflect. To put into words what I am feeling.

So let me start off by saying that this past week I was supposed to be in Arizona with Intern Scott and 16 of my college students for a mission trip. We were going to assist a missionary who lives in the Navajo nation with some work projects on peoples' homes. We have been planning this trip for four months. So many hours of planning, preparing, fundraising, paperwork, emailing, communicating, organizing...all for these 8 days of service. For many of our students, this was their first time on a mission trip. (For some, it was even their first time out of California.)

I didn't go. The night before we were supposed to leave, I pulled Intern Scott aside and asked him desperately if he could lead the trip. He said yes. So he led. And I stayed home this week.


In order to tell the full story, we must rewind. Travel back with me to my childhood. 9 year old Sarah with a bowl haircut (thanks Mom), bad 80's clothes, and braces.

I loved school. I loved my teachers. Especially my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Charles. I remember thinking, "I want to be a teacher when I grow up!" Sometimes when I was at a friend's house, they would say, "Wanna play Barbies??" and I'd say, "No. Let's play 'School'!" I'm sure my friends were less than thrilled with me. They had just spent all week in school. They didn't want to PLAY school at home. Nevertheless, I would play the teacher and they would play my pupils. I'd like to think I was a kind but stern teacher back then.

When I entered junior high and then high school, I started getting involved with the children's programs at my church. I volunteered in Sunday School classes and in the summers, I worked at our church's Day Camp. I LOVED it. I loved kids. They were the coolest. So I realized in high school I wanted to be an elementary school teacher.

I was going to have an amazing classroom. I was going to touch young lives. And I was going to be a "light" in the public school system. Not only for my students but for my fellow teachers as well.

So I looked into colleges with good Education programs. I settled at a wonderful Christian university in southern California. Their Elementary Ed major was top notch. It felt SO good to enter college knowing exactly what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I had friends were who "Undeclared" or who kept changing majors throughout school. But not me. Oh no, not me. I KNEW what I was going to be. I was going to be a teacher, dammit. (pardon the cuss word - it's for dramatic effect)

I didn't really care for my general ed classes (who does?) but once I got into my teaching classes sophomore year, I was in heaven. I got straight A's because I was so invested. I made friends with all my fellow elementary ed majors. We all had the same classes together so we studied and stressed and bonded together.

It pretty much became my identity. It was what I was known for. I was Sarah the Teacher. Or I should say Sarah the Elementary Education major, soon to be Teacher.

The four semesters before graduation, I got to be in four classrooms to observe and assist the teacher. Four different grades at 4 different schools. I was in a second, fourth, first, and fifth grade classroom. Here are some pictures from those:

Finally, it was time to graduate! At graduation, all my Elem Ed. peeps and I glued pinwheels (to symbolize our love of children) to our grad caps. I used glitter puffy paint to put a quote on mine as well:

Graduation was awesome. I wasn't done with school, though. I was going to be back that fall to do my student teaching. 9 weeks in a second grade classroom, then 9 weeks in a fourth grade classroom. Those were my two favorite grades so this experience was going to help me choose which I wanted to teach.

Student teaching was SO hard. I felt like I worked just as hard as the teachers, but they were getting paid and I had to pay to do all that work. But I knew it would help me in the long run so no complaining. I had to lesson plan everything. I had to put together a thick portfolio. I had to be observed and graded by my graduate advisors multiple times during the semester. It was stressful. Meanwhile I was sharing a one bedroom apartment with two other girls and none of us had any money. We had a bunkbed and a tiny twin bed shoved into this small closet of a room and all we could afford to eat was rice and ramen noodles. Gross.

Here are some pixs of student teaching:

After student teaching, I stayed down in Southern Cal for another six months to be a substitute teacher and make some money back. I subbed any grade from kindergarten to high school. Elementary aged kids were still my fav, though.

And then I had some decisions to make. I got 2 job offers at schools in So. Cal. One was to teach second grade at a Christian private school. The other was to teach third grade at a public elementary school. But as much fun as it was to live in southern California for 5 years (Disneyland!!), I knew I didn't want to live there permanently. I wanted to move back up to Northern California where it was green and beautiful, there was no smog, and I could be closer to my fam.

But if I moved to northern California, would I be able to find a teaching job? All of my teaching contacts were down in So. Cal. Hmmmm....what to do.

End of Part 1.

1 comment:

Emily said...

Please tell me you're going to post more of this story soon...I hate cliffhangers! I know what happens in chapter 2, though. =)