Sunday, March 6, 2011

Where does the Odyssey begin?

Growing up, I never expected or wanted to be a teacher. Who would spend so long getting out of school only to return to these halls that smell like hormones, sweat, angst and stale corn chips? My own school experience was not the best- I was not popular or well-liked. I had plenty of friends, don't get me wrong- we just weren't part of the "in" crowd. We were more likely those kids that your mother warned you about.

Academically, I did enough to stay out of trouble at home, but looking back, I realize that I certainly didn't do my best. As a teacher myself now, I have a much better understanding of my own teachers' frustration with me. I graduated with a respectable GPA, but not one that truly mirrored my abilities. It seems I wouldn't truly live up to my potential until I was in graduate school, studying for my MS in a subject I was truly passionate about....ESL and Foreign Language education.

Leaving high school and heading to college, I planned to major in Journalism. I also already had credit for Spanish 201 and 202 under my belt and realized that it would only take a few classes to complete a second major in Spanish. But, I argument? You can't do anything with Spanish but teach. And I don't want to be a teacher. Can anyone say 'irony'?

Fast forward a few years....I had earned my journalism and Spanish degree, but most of the jobs I was finding were for less pay than I was able to make waiting tables, and were likely more degrading as well. So I start looking into other avenues....what about translating? Or, (heaven forbid) what about teaching Spanish?

And so, I applied for a few jobs. Spanish was considered a high-need area and many states offered alternative routes to certification. But, the more I considered and thought about it, I knew I would like to take a teaching route that would eventually enable me to teach, I thought, how about ESL?

I began looking into master's programs, since I already had a bachelor's. I settled on one at the University of Tennessee, in Knoxville, since I was already living in Fort Sanders where most of the University students lived anyway. I went into the program intending to use it as a means to obtain a degree and licensure that would enable me to teach not only in the US, but also overseas. I knew that might mean a few years in US public schools...but like I said, a means to an end, right?

Wrong...turns out, during my student teaching, I loved teaching middle school (which was the one rotation I dreaded above them all!). Plus, I learned that by working for a Title I school for 5 years, I could get some loan forgiveness from the federal government. So...when I finished my degree, I got a job in Charlotte, North Carolina with CMS, and my husband and I packed up and headed out.

I was finally ready to begin my odyssey as a public school teacher.

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