Monday, March 18, 2024

Finally, We Return

 Three Years. It's been over three years (Though not by much) since I last wrote something here. It was semi-intentional because all of my longest-form thoughts since then seemed to be related to the pandemic, or the vitriol in our political world, or some other thing that was related and felt exhausting to write about. It's not that I didn't have opinions on them, it's more that I was exhausted about writing them, and couldn't fathom people wanting to read yet another take on the same things. I needed time away. It wasn't fully intentional, but every time I thought about an entry I just passed.

So, three years on, what do I have to write about? I figured a longer-form update was in order. Let people know what goes on and where I am. Frankly, it's best that it took this long, because I can bring more objectivity to some of what I write here. So let's get rolling.

I teach middle school. I know for most of you this isn't news. However, for some this may come as a bit of a shock. How did I end up here? Most who know me have heard me say that I never in a million years would've ended up here. But here I am. In December 2020, I was teaching elementary school in Weeping Water, NE. Weeping Water is a GREAT little town. It is, however, fairly far from Lincoln. When I left Dorchester, my #1 goal was to reduce my commute time. I failed at that MISERABLY. It turned out that Weeping Water was actually farther from home than Dorchester had been. Long story short, I resigned entirely from teaching and coaching at Weeping Water, intending to pursue something outside of education. Maybe I’ve addressed that elsewhere, but I wrote that three plus years ago, so maybe a complete recap (Skip if you like, let's pretend I'm your favorite streaming service) is in order.

When I walked out of Weeping Water School, I was dead-set on never teaching again. At the time, I really thought it was because there were problems in public education that Covid had laid bare and now that they were surfaced, could not be hidden again, but I think there were other things going on that I likely won't rehash anywhere, but I have to acknowledge at least to myself.

I spent the next couple of months trying to find a job in the non-profit world. I still wanted to be a helper, feel like I was contributing to the greater good, but nothing materialized. Finally, a good friend mentioned there was an opening at his company that he thought I'd be well-qualified for, so I applied. It wasn't a non-profit, but the company did a lot of work with not-for-profit organizations, and knowing his heart, it felt like a good fit. I applied and was working on scheduling an early screener call.

At the same time, I also had a hard deadline for "If I don't have a gig, I need to at least get my name on sub lists for local districts." While Lincoln Public Schools, the largest district in my area, is primarily an online application process (And a frustrating one that I can recount later, if anyone wants to hear), two other locals are smaller districts and I ran to drop off sub packets one July afternoon. 

Later that day, I got a phone call. I was expecting it to be from my friend's manager, a woman. It frankly took me longer than I'd like to admit to get my brain wrapped around the fact that I was being offered a two-month sub job in 7th grade English-Language Arts in one of the districts where I'd dropped of my application to sub that morning. The principal was incredibly gracious and after conversation with Keya, I decided it was the right move.

Y'all. I LOVED it. When I posted on Facebook that I'd spent two months in a middle school and it had renewed my love of teaching, my buddy Erik commented (Likely correctly) that I was the first teacher in the history of ever to have that sentiment. He's likely right, but I loved it. I could tell a long, weird story about my last day at Waverly Middle School that October, but I won't here. Maybe another time.

So then I was thrust back into the subbing pool and picked up a job teaching subbing for a French teacher on a random Thursday in Lincoln Public Schools. While chatting with one of the counselors working lunch duty, I was sharing my frustration with the substitute application process in LPS. She said it's often held up by the state, but I told her I had an active teaching license, and it was just the district. She turned and asked if she'd heard me right and I have a full teaching license. I said I do. She said we need someone Monday. I said I thought I was free Monday. She said, no, starting Monday for the rest of the year. Another weird situation that I can describe later, but she immediately called the Assistant Principal, who pulled me in during my next plan to interview me. I interviewed with the principal after school and started on Monday teaching 6th grade Math and Science for the remainder of the school year at Schoo (Pronounced Sko) for the rest of the school year. I loved it.

But it was almost as long of a commute as Weeping Water or Dorchester had been because it was across Lincoln and through downtown. Though Lincoln has minimal volume slow downs during rush hour, it's not nothing. Waverly had been less than 20 minutes most mornings. Everything else was 30+ minutes. 

There are other frustrations I have with Lincoln Public Schools, so when an opportunity came up at Waverly, I jumped on it. There were two sixth grade English-Language Arts (ELA) positions. I thought I was a shoo-in. 

I. Was. Not. For a series of reasons, I was not the right choice for either of the Waverly jobs (I often joke with my principal that it was one of the hardest rejection calls he's ever had to make) and to this day, I get it. However, I applied, interviewed for, and was hired into my same position at Schoo. It was good. I loved the team, had some great kids, and the drive sucked, but it was okay, I could live with it.

Then I got a call from the Waverly Principal. There was a position the admin team thought I'd be great for, could I talk to them about it? That was Thursday evening and I couldn't talk because I had volleyball practice in a few minutes. When was I free the next day? I drop the kids off at daycare about 7:20, then get coffee. He said he'd call at 7:25.

He did, like clockwork. The job is Careers and Computers. Would you be interested in applying? Yeah, I would, but if I'm a match, I'm going to ask for grace as I navigate a completely different career field than what I'd ever done in education. Yup, great. We need someone positive and fun (And I later found out, a little nerdy) because this role works with all the kids in the course of a year. I accepted when it was offered.

When I resigned in LPS, I was told that they would accept my resignation if and only if they could find a "suitable replacement" if I resigned anyway, it would go to the district to decide how to proceed. Those decisions could include asking the state to pull my teaching license. I submitted my resignation in April.

Thereafter was a month of borderline torture. I called it professional purgatory. The principal at Waverly was reassuring every time I talked to him. We've been here before, he told me, it almost always works out. I was not so reassured. 

It didn't help that the first round of candidates interviewed were garbage. And teaching has seen a SIGNIFICANT DROP in the number of applicants for a given position. Where there were dozens for one position a decade ago, they'd be lucky to have ten now.

On the last day of school, as we're stacking chairs and moving tables to go home for the summer, my principal at Schoo pressed through the enthusiastic sixth graders to tell me they'd offered my job to an excellent candidate who'd accepted. I was free to teach at Waverly. 

I'm in my second year. I teach Careers to 8th graders, Coding to 7th graders, and Keyboarding to 6th graders. I've been back in school for two summers to grow my coding skills. It's marked a huge change in my life, but Waverly is an incredible district and I'm thrilled to have chosen to have my kids go to school here as well. The district is what I've deemed a "Full-size district". It's big enough to have colleagues to bounce ideas off of, there are multiple elementaries that feed into the middle school, and there are a variety of opportunities for all the students, BUT it still has a small-town feel. 

So yeah, I'm likely to retire as a teacher. We still live in Lincoln, and it's a short commute, but it's perfect for our family. I also get to coach. I run the middle school volleyball program which has been wonderful because it's not near as demanding of a schedule for me and I can be home with Keya and the kids more while still getting to work with high-level athletes.

I'm going to try to get to these updates more often. I've tried to brainstorm things that are not so divisive or emotional to post. I'll still do a few of those things, but overall, I hope to get back to what I've done in the past. Thanks for coming back after forgetting about it all these years.


  1. Welcome back! I always liked reading your blog and 99% of the time agree with your views. And there are lots of lucky kids in Waverly that get to be your students! And, speaking from personal experience, retiring as a teacher is great.

  2. Well, I really enjoyed reading that post! You found where you belong and I love that to the moon and back! Miss you! Just an old lady, who is happy for you and your family!