Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Plan You Don't Always See - Part 1

Seven years ago, about halfway through my first year of teaching, my principal asked me to commit to seven years of teaching at that school. I said no, but that I would commit to five. Five years later, I quit. There were a lot of reasons. I wanted to live closer to my parents, I wanted to live somewhere where the words "water shortage," "tornado," and "humidity" were never heard, and I wanted to leave that school of 3000+ students and 3000+ mostly unrelated problems for a smaller one.

I knew I was working at a disadvantage. I mean for crying out loud, I AM A SOCIAL STUDIES TEACHER WHO DOESN'T COACH. The odds were definitely stacked against me. Not only that, but I would be looking for a job in the Northwest while living 2000 miles away in Texas. My interviews would all have to be phone interviews. All I knew was that I was going and it seemed right.

That was the year that it rained in Seattle. I know, ironic, but that year it rained A LOT. It rained so much that school was cancelled several days and they ended up going to school through the last week of June. Meanwhile, I was teaching in Texas, where school got out Memorial Day weekend. I started filling out job applications in March, flew home for a job fair in April, and developed a daily routine of checking 25-30 different district job sites across the Northwest.

My first preference was Seattle. I have loved this city since the first time I visited it in junior high. But I was also willing to go to Portland, or the Oregon coast. As the weeks went on and no interviews were happening, I began to expand my search to any major city in Oregon or Washington...and then anyWHERE in Oregon or Washington...

I applied for a job where I would have been the only social studies teacher in the entire K-12 school of 200 students. I applied for a job where I would have been teaching social studies and Spanish. I applied for a job where I would have been living 85 miles from the closest supermarket. I applied for a job in a juvenile detention hall. I applied in almost every school district surrounding Seattle. Anytime a social studies position was posted, I applied for it.

I got a few replies, but considering I sent out upwards of 50 application packets (at an average of $2.50 apiece), I didn't seem to be making much of an impact. But I kept at it, and kept praying, and kept my cell phone charged at all times.

When I went to Seattle in April for the job fair, my mom and I drove around Seattle...mostly on the freeway. When I did finally get off the freeway, we ended up driving through this little suburb in South Seattle and I knew that district was my first choice. It was one of the first application packets I sent out. Everything I knew about it was what I was looking for. It was a lower-income district. The schools were small (1200 or so in each of the three high schools). It was just....right. But no calls came from them. I had sent them a general application, and kept an eye on the district job posts, and finally 2 social studies jobs were posted in early July. I applied again for the specific job, and finally got a call asking to set up a phone interview.

Part 2 tomorrow.


Me said...

ok, i'm hooked....keep going! : )

Colleen said...

Ok...you forgot the part about...well, maybe it is in part 2.

Yes, I am reading them in order of the story, not of the blog...started at the bottom.