Wednesday, April 18, 2012

my unwanted acquaintance, part 2

I decided to apply for a job in northern Cal.

There is a camp I went to growing up. Every summer my family and I went for Family Camp. And in 4th through 8th grade, I went to a week of their summer camp just for that age group. That place has always been special to me. Kind of like a second home. I also feel so close to God when I'm there. A ton of my spiritual growth occurred under those redwood trees.

When I was in college, I spent three amazing summers as a counselor at the same camp I had gone to as a camper. Full circle. Love it.

In the back of my mind, I always wondered if I could live there after college. And then I heard about an opportunity: Outdoor Science School. This camp had one. I applied to be a teacher/naturalist. And I got the job. Oh my ga, I'm going to live year-round at this amazing place.

I moved up to Northern Cal and got settled in a house with my fellow female teachers. The guy teachers were down the street in their own house. Basically it was the best job ever. We got a group of fifth graders every week and got paid to take them hiking and teach them about nature, science, and the beautiful outdoors. The only bad part was the hours. 7:30 a.m. till 9:30 p.m. with a two hour break in the afternoon. But when you're young, sleep is overrated, right?

I will always look back on those years at Outdoor Science School with fondness and joy. It truly was the perfect job after college. Living and working in Christian community (To this day, I am still extremely close to everyone I worked with those three years). Teaching fifth graders. Hiking every single day. I was in the best shape of my life. I even hiked to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite at the end of my second year because I knew I'd probably never be able to do it after that. I made so many memories and have so many funny stories from those years.

You might be, Sarah, weren't you dying to get into the classroom? Yes, I was. BUT I also knew this was the only time in life I could do a job like this. I couldn't teach in the classroom for a few years and then take a few years off to work at this outdoor school. I knew if I was going to do it, it had to be when I was younger. And I knew I had at least 30 years in the classroom to look forward to - 3 years of doing this amazingly fun job wouldn't be much in the grand scheme of things.

So I did it. And I'm so glad I did. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

licking a banana slug

In the spring of my third year, I started applying for teaching jobs in the area. I had fallen in love with the area and wanted to stay if I could. The problem was no one was hiring. This area is expensive to live so many families were moving away. Which meant "declining enrollment" at all the public schools. Soooo, no teaching positions open.

I remember my first disastrous interview. I had a friend who taught sixth grade at a public school about 20 minutes away. He said he'd get me an interview with his principal. He said they had a fifth grade opening in the fall. So that's what I prepared my interview questions for. I put on my most professional teacher outfit and drove to the school for my interview.

I met with the principal and three other people. I was nervous (my first real teacher interview!) but tried to seem calm and collected.

After some small talk, we got to business.

The principal: "So Sarah, tell me what your first grade classroom would look like?"


Um, what? I thought this was for fifth grade. Nope, they were interviewing me for a first grade position. And my friend never told me.

But instead of stopping and saying something like, "There seems to be a misunderstanding. I thought this was an interview for fifth grade. So sorry, let me collect my thoughts..." I decided to forge ahead and see if I could still rock this interview. The only problem was....I had next to no experience with first graders. 4th to 6th were my focus. So I wracked my brain but I couldn't think of what to say.

"Uhhhhhh, let's see. My classroom. There would be shapes. And colors. And letters."

I wish I could say I am exaggerating, you guys. I am not. I could not, for the life of me, figure out what to say so I just said whatever was coming to my mind. I seriously was like Tarzan, spitting out sentence fragments. Me teach. Me teach kids. Me have numbers and letters in class. *grunt*

I remember looking at the principal and other interviewers. Their expressions were stuck in frozen smiles but I could tell I was bombing. They would steal glances at each other as I continued.

"Uhhhh, there'd also be music. I like music. We could sing every day. I'd have a calendar corner where we could go over the days of the week and the weather. Oh and there would be desks."

It could not have gone worse. I was looking around the room I was in, frantically thinking of whatever else I could add to my embarrassing classroom description.

"Oh yes, books. Lots of books. Reading is...good."

I was acting like a drunk person.

A drunk person actually might have made more sense.

I truly don't remember one other question they asked me after that one. The rest of the interview, I was thinking, "I'm not getting the job. I'm not getting the job. There is no way in HELL I am getting this job."

They thanked me and I left. I remember getting in my car, driving onto the freeway, and calling my mom.

"MOM! I FAIL!!! I JUST HAD THE WORST INTERVIEW EVER!!!" I screamed through my tears.

"Sarah, calm down. I'm sure it wasn't that bad," she said soothingly.


I could barely keep my car on the road. It was horrible. I came home and bawled my eyes out. Worst first interview ever.

Needless to say, I did not get the job.

After that, I tried getting interviews at any other schools, but I could not. No one was hiring. It was crazy. I even started looking into private schools. Nothing. My job at the Outdoor Science School was ending soon. What was I going to do in the fall?

End of Part 2.


Jody said...

Aw! Well at least the interview was kind of hilarious :) Right?

Smarshie said...

It's a great story NOW. But back then, it was traumatizing.