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…
When looking at the preceding post, some would say “Where did you come up with the forty-four year period of time in schools?” Unless I started at a very young age as a teacher (I’m currently fifty years old), that would have been quite a feat. I’m including in that number my own years as a student, beginning in the first grade.
I went to Kenworth Elementary School from first through sixth grades. The school is still standing and often when I go by I have a flood of memories to go along with the view.
College Park Junior High School was the next stop. I had the seventh through ninth grades in that building, which now houses the alternative school as well as the American Red Cross.
Hickory High was next in line. At that point, high school covered tenth through twelfth grades and it was from there that I graduated in 1977. We recently had our thirtieth reunion and it was good to see so many that I knew way-back-when.
I decided to be a homeboy and went to Lenoir-Rhyne College, where I started out as a business major. When I was registering for the sophomore spring semester, I got in line behind a young woman and struck up a conversation with her immediately. Turns out she was an education major and began telling me about how excited she was with her coursework. To make a long story short, by the time I go to the end of the line, I had changed from a business major to an education major. Sometime I wonder how life would have turn out if I hadn’t gotten behind her in line.
After graduating from Lenoir-Rhyne in 1981, I began my teaching career. After my student teaching experience as well as my first year of teaching, I wasn’t entirely sure I had made the right choice. But as most of our lives bear out, we end up doing exactly what we’re supposed to in life.
I returned to Lenoir-Rhyne and took coursework to be able to teach gifted education. Those eighteen credit hours equaled half of what was needed to get a master’s degree, so I went ahead and got the remaining hours and received my M.A. in middle school gifted education in 1989.
Next,,, My teaching years
The Beginning of the End…
I’ve decided as I work my way through my twenty-ninth year of teaching that this will be my final year in the classroom. I was keeping a journal of thoughts and feelings on the matter and will use this blog to chronicle my last year in the profession. I was unsure at first as to what my final decision would be, but it’s become clear to me that this will be my last in the profession.
So over the next eight months, I will chronicle my comings and goings, especially relating to the workplace and all the thoughts and emotions that go with the institution that has taken a part of each of the past forty-four years in my life.
I also realize these entries will be the gateway into a new and exciting part of my life in which I’m able to do some of those things I’ve always wanted to do. As of right now, I’m unsure what I’ll do at the end of the school year, but I do know to take it one day at a time and keep my eyes focused on what’s really important.
Whether or not I was consciously aware of it at the time, God’s presence has been a guiding force in the circumstances of my life. As I seek to have a clear relationship with Him, I can only surmise that I’ll be much more aware of how He works in my life.
Not that I’ll always or even most of the time understand why things happen as they do. But I do have awareness of God’s everlasting promise to be by my side and to never leave me nor forsake me.
The are many stories in the Bible I feel a connection with that parallel some of the events in my life. In the Old Testament, one of my favorite examples in the story of David’s conquest of Goliath. David was destined for great things in God’s kingdom, but as this story begins, he’s just a shepherd boy tending his flock. Although he was not look at as a strong and courageous person, he had what they lacked – faith in God. He realized and declared that the giant would be defeated not through his own efforts, but by the power of the almighty God. I see in my own life that the “Goliath’s” in my experiences have been overcome because God did for me what I could not do for myself.
In the New Testament, I am drawn to the story of the prodigal son. The fact that the son could return home to his father’s house was due to his father’s forgiving nature and love. The boy had decided that he had better ideas of how to live his life and spend his inheritance and his father allowed him to do so. There are times in all of our lives when God allows us to follow our own free will, even though it may not be in line with what He would choose for us. During my days, I had strayed far away from what God would have me to be. But just as in this story, God runs back to us with loving arms when sees that we realize the errors of our ways and ask for forgiveness.
In both of these examples, I can see myself and the path my life has taken. Not all of it has been easy and I’ve experienced a lot of pain. But as my faith in God increases I can see, just like Joseph, that it has all worked together for good.
So this day I go forward, with the conscious choices that lie ahead firmly in my view. I each day ask God to give me a clean heart and a clear mind so I can best serve His will for my life and the lives of those around me.