When I was in high school I was certain that I should be a nurse or even a doctor. To that end I joined the Medical Careers Club and faithfully attended the meetings for years. I even held offices in my junior and senior years. By the time of my graduation I was not as certain that medicine was the right field of endeavor for me, so when I reached the university I tried all sorts of majors in a short space of time. Business classes did not work. Engineering felt tedious. I even considered journalism. I fought the idea of being a teacher because everyone around me seemed to believe that I should do more with my life. Eventually I gave in to my always returning fascination with the idea of being an educator.
I spent over two decades working with students at different grade levels and while I found that I enjoyed every single day of work, I was drowning under the weight of sending my daughters to college. I felt that there must be a more profitable way of earning a living even if I did not enjoy it as much as teaching. I returned to the university to earn an advanced degree in Human Resources Management with an eye to becoming a corporate trainer. I supposed that I would still be teaching with the only difference being that I would be working with adults. It sounded like a fun challenge and so I enjoyed all of my courses.
I found that I had a knack for making presentations to the adults in my classes. My favorite course was one that focused on Labor Law. I sparkled in the Training and Development class using all of my knowledge of pedagogy with the adults who were very engaged in my presentations. I learned about working with teams and had my eyes opened by a benefits and compensation class. Then came a course called Futures which I had thought would just be little more than an easy way to fulfill my hours and earn my master’s degree.
The Futures course was perfect for me because it involved mostly writing. While others groaned at the assignments, I felt that I was in my element. I didn’t mind at all that each of the topics were somewhat personal, providing a kind of psychological look into who I am as a person. I delighted in providing a kind of autobiography of how I had come to that moment in life. I had little idea of the impact that my meanderings would have on my professor and eventually on me.
On the final day of classes as I was literally completing my very last test before graduation when the professor asked to to talk with him before I left. I was a bit worried about what he might have to say because he looked very serious as he whispered his request. I nonetheless sailed through the exam and them waited patiently outside of the classroom until he was free to speak to me. That is when he laid an unexpected bombshell on me.
He hemmed and hawed for a time explaining his reluctance to tell me what he was about to say. He insisted that he had only my interests in mind and that he knew he had to say something before I left. Finally he got to the point. He said that he had enjoyed reading all of my papers, but that the same theme had jumped out of each page over and over again. He realized that I didn’t really want to leave teaching. He insisted that I seemed to be wedded to my profession by a sense of purpose that brought me great joy. He suggested that instead of leaving my job, I find a way to use my new degree to advance my career in education and perhaps my pay as well.
I was quite stunned and silent during his persuasive speech. I stood there thinking that I had just spent two years, countless dollars, and most of my evenings and weekends earning my master’s degree and now someone was attempting to talk me out of the move that I had looked forward to making. I thanked him for his honestly but never once believed that I would change the direction that I had chosen for the remainder of my work years. I sent applications to companies all over my city and waited for responses.
I received several calls and most of my interviews were over the phone. I was accustomed to that kind of preliminary process and as usual I received a number of next level call backs. Each and every time I found myself saying things to the interviewer that I knew wouldn’t bode well. It was as though I was unconsciously ruining my chances of landing the job. I made silly excuses as to why I did not think I was a good fit for the various positions. I found myself feeling sick at the idea of working in the corporate arena. Finally I decided to simply return to the classroom for one more year until I might sort out my feelings.
Not long after that my principal told me that he was planning to create a brand new position that would involve being a kind of teacher facilitator and trainer. Without missing a beat I told him that he need look no further than me. I showed him my certifications and my degrees and he immediately insisted that he could not spare me from the classroom. I came back with the argument that someone had probably once said the same thing about him. He laughed, but said nothing more. The following day he offered me the job.
I spent the next many years as a Dean of Faculty, serving as a trainer and facilitator for the teachers in my building. I hired new teachers, managed the testing program, provided inservice education for both new hires and established teachers and generally served as the liaison between the members of the faculty and the principal. At the same time I kept in close contact with the students, acting as an advisor and team leader. It was a fabulous job with the kind of pay that I had hoped to get in the private sector while still allowing me to have my hand in education.
I suppose that I have always known that my purpose in life was to be an educator. It was my dream as a young girl and no matter how many times I attempted to deny it, the desire to teach always came back. The classroom and even the board room was my happy place. To this very day I continue to tutor and teach small groups of students. It is not just in my blood. It seems to be my life blood. I suppose that it has been a blessing to find the perfect fit for my life’s work. I am so glad that somehow I always found my way back into the profession that seems to be my destiny.