As a little girl, my favorite game to play was "school." I liked school. I was good at school. I wanted to help my friends be good at school. One dear lady, who I tutored in Geometry in 10th grade, still credits me with her passing math! (Hi, Donna!)
I love teaching. I am trained and certified as a teacher. I am wired to teach. I don't have to wonder "what should I do with my life?" I know; I need to teach.
My first first experience with teaching, at Hampton Roads Academy, was wonderful and overwhelming! Just after graduating from Duke, I got a great job at HRA teaching 11th-grade English, and as the head of the Drama Department. I totally loved the work; but a regular schedule of 60-hours per week, plus 3 productions per year soon burned me out. After only two years of my dream job, what could I do?
I tried some other good jobs, leasing apartments, IT director for a law firm, consulting... I learned new things and did my work well; but none of it was as fulfilling as teaching. So, when I was offered the chance to teach Old Testament to 7th graders at Caldwell, I jumped! I determined that I would only teach part-time, so that would help me have a balance between teaching and life. I was asked to teach computer classes, which made sense. After a couple of years, other opportunities became available. With my background in design, becoming the Yearbook supervisor made a lot of sense. However, the time and extra effort required to put together a yearbook soon drained me. It seemed like never-ending work. The only things that really kept me going were the outstanding kids that I worked with. (I became much more encouraged about the state of the union when working with such excellent young people.). But, during my last year (2007-08), all that work plus the new pain... it was all more than I could take. I want to apologize to my students and colleagues for that year. The pain should have been a warning sign to stop teaching. But, at the time, I kept thinking that the next cortisone injection would solve the problem, and I could get back to teaching. However, the pain was overwhelming my ability to prepare well, and sapping my energy and enthusiasm.
After "failing" at teaching a second time, I wasn't sure that I would ever find another venue for my teaching passion.
This past fall (2010), as I was beginning to feel better, several folks suggested that I try tutoring. (I figured it would be a 'little bit' of teaching; maybe I could handle it.) I was hired by MasterMind Prep to teach Kindergartners how to read. I had never worked with such young students, and they were such fun to teach! This was a "tiny little part-time job," only 2 afternoons per week. Although it pushed my physical stamina, it was a wonderful outlet for my "teaching juice," an excellent distraction, and a chance to be productive again! (I didn't even let them know that I had chronic pain, and it didn't matter at all!)
This spring, I got an e-mail from a dear friend, and was subsequently hired to conduct computer training for a law firm in town (at HaganDavis, thanks Emily!). At just one hour per week, it again pushed my stamina, but built up my enthusiasm for teaching again. I hope to continue working with them over the next few months. I also got a referral for a lady who needed some one-on-one computer training. I enjoyed having her in my home for 3 evenings, and we will continue her training in May.
All of these opportunities to teach have really helped me heal. They have pushed me physically, expanded my training experience, and relit my passion for teaching. Perhaps I can excel in the long-term with one-on-one or small group training. I believe that my days in the traditional classroom are over. I think that my ability and desire to teach can be used in smaller groups. I hope that I will continue to find opportunities to use my teaching passion; this is what I was made for.
What is your passion? What were you made for? How are you expressing it?