Monday, August 18, 2008

Starting Over Again

Two years ago, Wick and I started teaching in Dallas ISD. He went to the lowest performing middle school in Dallas. I went to the lowest performing high school in Dallas. Not surprisingly, his middle school feeds into my high school.

We thought that we would stay in these jobs until we retire. I was wrong.

In Texas, educational effectiveness is measured by the TAKS test--the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. Wick's school achieved acceptable status this past year.

Unfortunately, after four years of low performance, my school suffered a drastic reconstruction.

All incoming ninth graders will be accepted. All sophomores and juniors will be sent to other high schools. Only seniors with no deficiencies in their graduation plans will be allowed to return and graduate.

Only a handful of teachers were retained. The vast majority, of which I am a member, were released from our contracts two weeks after school was out in June.

We were informed by voice mail of our fate. Suddenly, all the plans for the new school year melted away. We had to look for new jobs. Since we had no idea what was in store, none of us had requested transfers to other schools, so we had missed the prime season for transferring elsewhere.

We were eventually instructed to attend a job fair on July 31st. Just about 2 weeks from the first day to report for the new school year.

The job fair was a nightmare of noise, confusion, heat, and key people out of pocket. I interviewed with a number of schools, but received no firm offers.

Just as I was about to give up and go home, a principal called and asked me to come back to his table. He told me he wanted to offer me a job, but he couldn't unless a teacher was willing to move from English to French. She wasn't willing.

Several days later, he called again, saying he was now able to offer me a position. I had no idea what I would be teaching, but said yes, I wanted to work there.

Whenever Wick and I change jobs, we pray to be placed where God wants us to be. So I believe that this placement is where He means for me to be, at least for now.

I would like to think that I will be able to stay here, since everyone has been so supportive and welcoming. But if God moves me elsewhere, I will be content to go, since I know that He purposes good and not evil, and will use me to bless the children entrusted to my care.

I found out today that instead of teaching Advanced Placement seniors, as was planned at my former school, I will be teaching 3 sections of sophomore classes, and three sections of pre-AP sophomore classes.

I have 6 days in which to plan lessons, type up a syllabus, and prepare for my students.

I am sad for my former students, scattered to other schools.

I am sad for my friends, displaced as I was, some of whom still have not found permanent placement.

Struggling to learn the names, faces, and teaching assignments of a whole new staff.

Searching for one familiar face in a sea of strangers.

Praying for guidance as I meet new students next week.

Rejoicing that God has provided a place for me to use the gifts He has given me.