Thursday, September 27, 2007

Saga of the Jobs - Part 5

I do not know if anyone is still interested in this history of my work life, but I feel the need to complete what I started, if only for my family history's sake.

Graduation - Finally! What an exciting day it was, as we gathered around the Lamp of Learning in the middle of our campus, each of us holding ivy, which had been laboriously tied together. The president of the college then cut the ivy between each graduate, signifying our leaving each other and launching our new lives. The married couples who were graduating together did not have theirs clipped between them.



I mentioned before that I had to stay on campus for a couple more weeks to finish up my student teaching, but then I headed home for the summer. I bought my first car, a hunter green 1969 Mustang. Man, I loved that car! (Obviously, this is not a real picture of mine, but just an idea of what it looked like).


The second graduation picture is of my senior year roommate and myself. She is the one that was RA on Second South when I was on Third South, when we called ourselves upstairs/downstairs roommates. Linda and I went job hunting together, hoping to end up in Colorado. It wasn't to be, and we took jobs in a small rural town in southeast Kansas. She taught high school English and I taught 4th grade. I had the much better deal! Her job situation was very stressful, with very disrespectful students, besides advising the drama club and the yearbook, neither of which she'd ever done, on top of first year lesson plans. She came home with a headache almost every Friday night and headed for her bed.

We rented the upstairs of an old house. We just about melted that first few weeks. We thought we were going to be "rich schoolteachers." What a shock - after paying the rent (the apartment was $65.00 per month, divided between us), the utilities, the groceries, the car and insurance payments, and the NEA dues, we barely squeaked by. She went back home to western Kansas the next year, mainly because of the job situation. I'll never forget - we left town for Halloween week-end because some of her roughneck students threatened to egg her brand new baby blue Ford LTD. We parked my car in our pastor's garage, to protect it if they made good on their threats. They did - we found our house covered with sticky dried eggs when we got back.

My job was much nicer. I was in a country school, with one class of each grade. Fourth graders were old enough to really engage in conversation, but they were still young enough to love their teacher. I was as green as my car, but we learned together.

mom's class

The little guy on the top row in the red shirt, third from the right was Greg - a brilliant little guy. He would ask the most intriguing questions and get a look of dismay when I couldn't answer them. He thought I was a walking encyclopedia, I think. The other red shirted boy on the right end of that row was Patrick. He was from a Jeh*vah's Witness family, and they were quite evangelistic - he and his brother showed up at my apartment early one Saturday morning selling doughnuts. I had his brother the next year and one Thursday he told me that in their group study that night he was bringing the lesson on marriage. That threw me for a bit of a loop!

Jack is the portly young guy in the blue shirt on the middle row. Since it was such a small school, there was no special education option. Jack needed extra help. I worked so hard to find alternate ways for him to pass tests, since he had been passed along this far without having learned to read. His mom did his math homework for him and they both wondered how I knew. Disregarding the fact that the handwriting was legible and adult, there was the fact that I was teaching them "modern math," which required LONG answers for LONG division - showing every step, while she did the shortcuts that all of us in our age group were taught. I actually lost sleep over Jack and his problems.

The tiny little girl beside me on the front row was Tammy. Her mother came to my room the very first day of my very first year of teaching, before classes began. She told me that Tammy had cystic fibrosis - a disease I had never heard of before. I know a lot about it now because one of my son's best friends from church is a CF survivor at age 30, having been a "guinea pig" for an FDA trial, and then a recipient of a double lung transplant. But at that time the life expectancy was 14-15. When Tammy's mom told me of the possibilities that I might encounter during the year, I was scared spitless. The thoughts of the episodes she may have made me want to run and hide. She spent much time out of school, in an oxygen tent. I thought of Tammy every year after I left that town. I called the assistant superintendent of that school district, who was our choir director at church, and learned that she had indeed died in the 9th grade.

It is amazing to me that I can remember a story about almost every one of those children. It was a good year. But when Linda left and I was alone in that town and that apartment and that church (and had left a boyfriend back home that I had met the previous summer), and my expenses doubled, I was really unhappy. I longed to go to Colorado. I made a career-damaging move, resigning after the first semester and moving back home. I kind of made up a contract for God, giving Him all the logical reasons I should make this move, and asked Him to sign it. In hindsight, I should have definitely stuck it out the rest of that year.

Since so many of us had received the National Defense Student Loan that I mentioned in the last episode, teachers were a dime a dozen at that time. Even if I didn't have "career leprosy", I don't think I could have gotten a job in Colorado. I had a flashback to one of my interviews a few days ago that I hadn't thought of in many years. The superintendent of the school district in the town just north (where I now work at the university), came to Kansas City to interview for teachers. I went up there and stayed with a friend, dressed to the nines, and headed for the hotel where he was holding the interviews. Imagine my shock, even as naive and trusting as I was, when he opened the door to his room and invited me in for the interview. I can't even fathom what he was thinking - this was just asking for trouble - a closed door, himself, and a young female applicant. Not a good idea.

I did not get that position, nor did I get one in my home town. Maybe the fact that I didn't really love teaching came through. Ya think?? It was a shock to myself that I didn't, because it had been my dream since I was a little girl. I played teacher all the time, teaching my brother and sister after school when I was in first grade. But I also played secretary ---



Diane J. said...

Your long term memory must be much better than mine, Dawn. You remember details that I'd never begin to retain.

Doesn't it make you sick, thinking about how much that Mustang would be worth now if you'd been able to hang onto it?

I started first grade in 1969, and graduated in 1982. I recognize those clothing and hair styles, and the girls are all in dresses.

Because of our dress code, for the first 2 years I was in school all girls had to wear dresses or skirts.

A far cry from today, no?

You made a very purty teacher. ;-)

Love and hugs,


Sue "Sioux" Seibert said...

My first year of teaching was 1972. Gave it up after that...I thought. But God had other plans, and so He sat me right back in the classroom. I never did want to teach, but I was a very good teachers...loved troubled boys and I can teach a toad to read. As I said, this was not my doing, but God' Him be the glory. I am, however, very glad to be a retired teacher!!

Susie said...

Love seeing the pictures of you back then! What a pretty teacher you were.
Some of those prices were a trip down memory lane as well!

Yellow Mama said...

Children have a way of stamping your indellible (sp?) memory!

Midlife Mom said...

Love your hairdo in your class picture. Have a few of myself with the same one! heehee! Nice that you have all of these memories of your students. They must have really made an impression on you at the time. I would have been homesick too, I don't blame you a bit. It's hard to be so far away from everyone.

Maine Mom said...

I love the graduation idea of cutting the ivy between each graduate and leaving it linked between the married couples. Of course this only works for a small group of graduates. :-)

You do have a great memory! It's neat that you remember so much about your students.

Love the pictures!

P.S. I have an award for you at my blog. :-)

fairmaiden said...

I had a green '68 mustang in college too!!! I loved that car, until the engine caught on fire. I just want to thank you for visiting me at Sea Cottage and your care for our son. I am reading yours & your son's story and it is very very helpful!!! Our son is 17 and has run away from home 3 times in the past 5 months. It's all because of a girl, his first girlfriend. The problem is that she is 20! Our challenge is keeping them seperated. The police are involved and a restraining order is in the process. She's been arrested. Doesn't seem to faze her. It's a spiritual battle. And yes our son Luke needs deliverance. Thank you for praying<><

Sharon Lynne said...

That's a good "egg" story. There goes my theory that kids...why back when...were more respectful than the kids we have now. There will always be troublemakers!

Myrna said...

I look very much like you in my first "teacher" picture--which was in 1967. I tried several times to quit teaching--but it was always obvious that God wnated me there. I did enjoy it--especially the years when I was principal. My favorite job in education was Assistant Principal!

Angela said...

Great photos and memories from your teaching years. Many great times with students are imprinted within the heart of a teacher forever.

I look forward to your next post.

Sorry I missed droppin by on your birthday....Happy Belated Birthday to you, Dawn!

Have a wonderful new week!

groovyoldlady said...

I love your dress and hairdo in the class pic! Love the Mustang too!

I also love the fact that you remember your students. My third and fourth grade years were definitely my most memorable. It ridiculously pleases me to think that Mrs. Garcia and Mrs. Estevaz (yes, I went to school in South Texas! Muy Bueno!) might remember me...

Kathleen Marie said...

What a treasure for you kids and I love that country school photo...Priceless!

This has been interesting! Hugs!

Grafted Branch@Restoring the Years said...

Love your new blog skin. You broke my heart with the story about Tammy.

Nancy said...

I think this is my favorite. It brought back so many memories of my first teaching position. It's hard to believe how far we have come! Thanks for sharing... this was fun.

Tammy said...

I have truly enjoyed reading these, Dawn!
I had no idea you were a school teacher for a time! You looked so young and sweet- I would have loved having you for a teacher! (I was in 1st grade at that time, looking at the year.)
My heart broke for the little girl whom you found out later had passed away...very sad.
You do have an incredible memory and so wonderful that you can journal all these things down for family history as well as for us!

Tammy said...

P.S...and she shared my name, too....:( And just a few years older than myself.

PEA said...

I love the way you actually remember each of these students, no matter how green you thought you were, you must have made an impression on them:-) Very sad about the little girl, Tammy, having passed away in 9th grade. Love that picture of you with your class:-) I can't even imagine the struggle you went through trying to make ends meet...I think a lot of us as young girls want to become a teacher until reality sets in! lol xox