Years of Service – Part One
My teaching career has spanned twenty eight years and two and a half months. All of those have been in Catawba County, including my semester of student teaching at St. Stephens Elementary in 1981.
In ’81 teaching jobs were hard to come by. I hadn’t been hired by the first week of school and things weren’t looking good. The Hickory Recreation Department, who I had worked part time for during my teens, employed me as a center supervisor at the Highland Recreation Center. I wasn’t exactly sure that was what I wanted to do with my life, but it was job and that was important. To add to the convenience, the center was just up the street from my house, so I didn’t even have to get in a car to go to work.
I will also mention that I had interviewed with Hickory Chair Company for a position. Tom Baker was looking for someone to fill the shoes of John Sexton, who had been promoted. To be honest with you, I thought I was a shoe-in for that job, since I knew both the men involved. And I’ll say I was disappointed when I didn’t get that vacancy, but later on I figured that even things don’t work out, they too are a part of the master plan.
So a month into the center supervisor position, I get a call from Joe Caldwell, who was principal at Southwest Elementary. He said a teacher’s husband had been transferred out of state and that she would have to leave her position. He wanted to know if I’d like to consider that position for a fourth grade class. Fourth grade wasn’t exactly what I desired to teach, but I interviewed for the job and got it. Joe came over to Highland to have me sign the contract… as it turns out he was principal at the school when it still housed elementary students.
To say that I got off to a rough start would be putting it mildly. I had gone from being in college for four years to being responsible for a group of twenty-five children, most of whom were only ten years old. It took me a long while to get adjusted and there were three times I went into Joe’s office wanting to hang it all up, but somehow figured I would stick it out.
I learned a lot that first year, mostly what not to do in teaching. It wasn’t a total shock when I wasn’t hired back for the following year. I once again was left not knowing what direction my life would take. The summer was spent working with the recreation department’s field maintenance crew and hoping that another teaching post would soon avail itself.
To be continued…