Monday, July 23, 2007

How I became The Professor

Ok, per Mindy's request, I will give some background information about ME!

Hmmmm, where do I begin?

Well, I will start with the fact that I will be 31 years old in just a couple of weeks. I didn't have a hard time when I turned 30, but I had a VERY hard time when I turned 25. Weird, huh? Being in my 30's has been refreshing. My life seems so full now. When I was in my 20's I had a GREAT time, but there was always something I was trying to accomplish. Not the case anymore.

When I was 10 my baby sister was born. I loved having her for a sister, but she helped me "mature" a lot faster than I should have. Due to my parents work schedule I had a lot of responsibility. By the time I was 17, I was more than ready to be out on my own. I have always been an adventure seeker and very independent, so it worked out great when I was ready to leave the nest.

I was graduated and working as an office administrative assistant when I was 17. I didn't really like my job, but seriously, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was planning on going out of state for college, but all that changed when I met The Designer because he was a year behind me in school and I didn't want to leave him behind. So, I enrolled in the community college. What a joke! It was just as bad as high school, seriously. So, after one semester of that, I decided to go to a private business college. Well, that was a great idea, except I didn't really want to major in business. So, what was I doing there? Those were the only two local colleges and so I felt I didn't have much of a choice. Because it was private, it was very expensive, but I worked full time, went to school full time and so my college education began.

The first degree I received was an Associates in Business Management. I then continued at that same college and received a Bachelors of Business Administration. The second half of that degree was accomplished online because we had moved from Michigan to Colorado, but I didn't want to start over or repeat classes. Online classes were a relatively new thing at the time and I enjoyed them. Working at my own pace was great!

When I moved to Colorado I took a job working in an insurance company's call center. I worked my way up fast and it wasn't long before I was asked to help with the new corporate training program they were implementing. That was my first taste at education and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had been told most of my life that I should become a teacher, but I resisted because "teachers are under paid and not respected in the community." After running the training for a while, I was asked to move into a new position with the company. They were opening a new line of products and wanted me to be project manager. It meant better pay and higher "status" so I was enticed away from training and into this new position. I started the position in January, and I must say, I hated it! It took me all of a week or two to despise it so much that I would cry every day on my way to work just thinking about what I had to do. I missed training and I hated my new job. The two combined meant that I needed to evaluate what I wanted in my life and make the appropriate changes.

One night I was watching the news and they mentioned that Denver had a shortage of educators. They were doing something called, "The Denver Teacher Project" in which they were asking members from within the world of corporate work to consider becoming a teacher for the inner city school. I had considered it, but didn't think I had what it took, so I put it off. But, God had other plans. The very last day they were accepting applications I quickly threw something together (the application was INTENSE) and sent it in, not expecting to hear anything.

Several weeks later I received a letter in the mail asking me to join them for a group interview. I was shocked. The media was reporting that they received thousands of applications and they were looking to hire less than 100 people, so my odds of getting the job were slim. However, I was motivated because I hated my new position.

I attended the group interview, which was the hardest interview I have ever had. We had to teach a lesson to the rest of the group, so it was like we were being evaluated by the interviewers as well as the other 12 interviewees. Then we had a round table discussion amongst the interviewers in which we had to discuss education in the inner city schools. The interviewers didn't say a word, just observed and took notes. Then for the hard part...the one-on-one portion of the interview. The lady that interviewed me was "the mean lady." She was crusty! She asked me some tough questions and then asked me what I perceived to be an easy one..."what level are you interested in teaching?" Oh, this was simple..."definitely high school." Apparently that was the WRONG answer! I was only 23 at the time, but looked about 18. She let into me about how the high school students wouldn't respect me because I look too much like them and that if that is what I want to teach, maybe this isn't going to work. I gave it right back to her by saying, "well, you can hire me or not. The choice is yours. I KNOW I would make an excellent high school teacher. I know this is the area God has led me. You can agree or disagree, there is nothing I can do about it." or something to that effect. She was stunned that I stood up for myself and gave a smile. I left and heard nothing for what seemed like forever, but was probably more like a month or two.

I got THE CALL! They wanted me. They really, really, wanted me! I was shocked. I couldn't believe it! I wasn't going to be making as much money as I was currently making, but this was my opportunity to get out of my current situation and give teaching a try. There was only one small problem. I had NO training on how to be a high school teacher and they weren't going to give me any because school was to start soon. So, my very first day of teaching I walked into the classroom with no clue and thanks be to God, it worked! I loved it. The students loved me. They learned a lot.

My first year of teaching was awesome. I taught at an inner city school were many of the students were at a high risk of dropping out. Many of my students attended sporadically, to say the least. But, as the semester went by, they showed up to my class more and more. Ok, so there were a few weird things that happened. For one, I was asked to prom by more than one student...SERIOUSLY! My response to them: I don't think my hubby would appreciate that! I had to report one student to the police for sexual harassment. I couldn't believe a student would be so bold as to literally harass me, but it happened and it still makes me feel yucky to think about. The irony of that one: his dad was the police chief. Hmmmm???? The other thing that happened that year was the 9/11 attacks. Yep, that happened about my 3rd week of class. I had no idea what to do. I was scared to. I was 1200 miles away from home. But, God gave me the words. He filled me with the right actions. It all worked out.

(During my first year of teaching, I obtained my teaching certificate so I was legal to teach anywhere. Yay!)

So, after one great year of teaching at the inner city school district, I was convinced that teaching was DEFINITELY what God created me to do. I didn't want to leave the school, but the 45 min (on a good day) commute one way was old, especially since I had to drive through Denver during rush hour traffic. So, I applied for a school that was in the school district I lived in. I only applied for that one school. I got the job. The school was a newer high school. It had only been around for 2 years before I started teaching there. It was great!

(Somewhere in there I decided to go back to school for a graduate degree in School Administration. I received the degree and I also have my license to be a school principal.)

I was still teaching in the business department, but at the new school I had a lot of say on what we offered, how we taught, etc. I was one of the few who shaped that department and I loved it. The school administration really respected my opinions. In fact, they were really gearing me up to take on an administrative position by having me fill in for the school disciplinarian whenever he was out. They would hire a sub for me and have me fill in for him. It was kind of hard balancing both positions. The students saw me in two different roles, but it was great experience.

I was so involved in the "extras" of this school. I sponsored the Ski Club, so I took a group of about 50 students to Winter Park a few times a month during the winter months. I sponsored the scrapbooking club, so students would come get creative there. I also sponsored the FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) in which we would compete for state and national championships. In addition to those responsibilities I was on several different committees. And then, of course, I taught, which was the part that I loved the most. Even though I was in the business department, I taught more computers than business. I did start a new program in which students were able to intern for a semester in a career field of their choice. I had some vets, dr.'s, newspaper was awesome. The one student that wanted to be OB/GYN was able to "assist" in the delivery of 3 babies. The twins that were newspaper reporters were actually hired to report in the Denver Post. In fact, they were offered full ride scholarships to college and asked to return to them after college was done. I had so many great experiences from that program. I taught web design, basic computer courses, certification courses. I taught business management occasionally as well. Gosh, I just LOVED that job!!!

When we decided to move back to Michigan, I was very sad that I would be leaving this job. I LOVED this job (Have I said that enough?). I mean, it was my passion, for sure! I didn't like the idea of leaving it for the unknown. But I did. My administrator actually cried when I told her I was leaving.

Lil Bug was born and I knew that due to her disabilities, I would be a SAHM. It took me a LONG time to adjust to that position. In fact, at first I really didn't like it nor was I good at it. I was driving The Designer nutty. For my entire life I was defined by my career and suddenly I didn't have one and I was lost. I was depressed (thanks in part to the baby blues too, I'm sure).

The first year of Lil Bugs life I was lost. I loved being her mom. I couldn't have asked for a better experience, but at the same time, I was lost. I couldn't figure out what pleased me. I couldn't find the passion in me any more. I did figure it out eventually, but not until I decided to get back into the classroom again.

Finding teaching jobs around here is like pulling teeth. There just aren't any. So, the idea of teaching part time was definitely out of the question...especially in the business department. So, I considered teaching college. I didn't know if I had the skills to teach college, but I was desperate to get some identity back (and surrounding myself with adults if even for a couple hours a week sounded good too!) I applied for an adjunct business teaching job and surprisingly, I was offered the job. I have been teaching one or two classes a semester ever since.

I enjoy my job because it works great with my schedule, but it is definitely NOT my passion. I miss high school students (so ironic, since I hated high school myself). I miss having my "own" classroom. I miss the connections and relationships. I miss the administrative responsibilities. But, I teach college. I am actually trying to determine right now whether I will return to high school when my kids are in school full time or stay at the college level. Why would I worry about that now, when I have at least 6 years before Lil Princess will be in school full time? Well, because if I stay at the college level, I will have to get my doctorate degree if I want to go full time. So, that means more classes for me. Am I up for that challenge?

My entire adult life, God has blessed my career. Seriously, nearly ever interview I have ever had, I have been offered the job. I have taken some, declined others. That is why I am spending time in prayer now about the direction of my career. I suspect that if I go for it, I will achieve it (thanks be to God!) and I don't want to obtain another degree if that isn't necessary. So, here I am wondering....what does my future hold? Fortunately, right now I am content being mommy and part-time professor!


SJ said...

GREAT POST!! Thanks to Mindy for suggesting it :)

What schools did you teach at in CO? I've probably heard of them . . .

p.s. my 24th birthday bothered me A LOT. Not sure why :)

Anita said...

You are a DY-NO-MO!!!

BlessedWithDaughters said...

Teaching, especially teens, is truly a calling! I really admire you!

I know exactly what you say when you say you got lost after becoming a sahm. We love our babies fiercely, but staying home and tending to the needs of everyone else tends to cause us to let our "insides" fall by the wayside...hobbies, vocations, even just how we spend any second we have to's all different! No complaints, but sometimes it IS hard. I feel like a totally different person now than the person that Rob married. Not a bad change, but definitely a change!

Thanks for this post! Hugs to ya!

Anita said...

Angie, What I mean by "dy-no-mo" is that you are so driven in your career and you have done more much at such a young age. It's truly wonderful and inspiring and I am very proud of you! When you return to teaching part time/full time, whatever your life allows, you will continue to be an important part of your students life, because you are a teacher who cares!