A little over a year ago I had no idea I would be a teacher and loving it. Sure, I had sighed up for the GACE exams so I could qualify to teach, but it was reluctantly and in the face of having not been able to get a job. It was something I could use my degree for and get paid (plus health insurance omg!). That’s it. And, honestly, I wasn’t even sure someone would hire me. I was 27 with little teaching experience, no teaching degree, and no idea what I was doing.
Come June 2017, I passed my exams with flying colors (on the day before my 28th birthday). I was quick to get all of my other things, like ethics tests, out the way as fast as possible, so I could be prepared to go on interviews and apply for positions. I did get called on for several interviews, but through the end of June and most of July, nothing was panning out. Interview after interview called to tell me they went with someone with more experience. There is always that Catch-22 that jobs want people with experience, but few jobs want to give applicants that experience smh.
As you can guess, with the school year drawing closer, I was getting more and more despondent. It made no sense. Why was I getting emotional over not getting a job I didn’t even want?
In Georgia, teachers go back to work the week before students return. They need time to set up the classrooms, have some meetings, and get lessons ready for the first week. That week had come around and I was still jobless. All hope had basically left me. There was only one tiny bit of light that an alternative school might need me next semester. Now, I am a 5’2″ woman. Most teenagers tower over me. Working at an alternative school was mildly terrifying, but I was willing to do it. The hard part would be waiting until December to find out if there was even a possibility of me really getting the job. But, alas! I was saved from that fate of anxiety and worry.
August 2, I went to Bible Study and received a call. Martin Luther King, Jr. High School wanted to know if I was still available. Of course, I told them I was and they wanted me to come in that very afternoon for an interview. That meant rushing from Bible Study to drop my mom off at her home, then getting back to my side of town to change into an interview appropriate outfit, and dash down the street to make it to the interview.
Guys, the interview was awesome. I loved the guy that was the head of the Literature department, the assistant principal was so kind, and the other administrators seemed like real decent folk. Imagine my surprise and relief when they told me on the spot that they liked me and wanted to recommend to the county that I be hired!
I’m not going to act like that was the end of the hardships. I had to wait for the next hiring meeting, which wasn’t until the next week, so I missed the first week of school. Once I was in the classroom, the real work started. Over the course of the school year I dealt with student fights, students that were too advance or too below level for what the rest of the class needed, fires (yes that is multiple), being on the news a couple times, pregnancies, deaths, and so much more. But I’ve also had students that come to me to talk about their person issues because they trust me, students that want to just hang out, fostering a love of books, teaching the history of Blacks in America, gave real world advice, and seen students grow right in front of my eyes.
No cap, I cried at graduation seeing some of my babies in their caps and gowns.
I never expected to be as touched by these kids. They surprise me every single day with amazing insights and brilliant conversations. They know the four walls of my classroom are a safe space they can be themselves and it is wonderful to see them bloom. I honestly can’t wait until August when my new set of students will flood into my classroom and I can introduce them to the beauty of literature and foster new relationships.
My babies! <3