Saturday, June 11, 2011

School's out for summer!

I SURVIVED!!!!!!!!

They say that's the tell-tale sign that you'll be an okay teacher, that you survived your first year.  Due to my class assignment, I was definitely in survival mode for most of the year, and there was many an evening where I pouted lethargically instead of continuing to build my nest with my new hubby.  No more dwelling on that though; the year is done!  I have quite a lengthy recount of my job situation went down, so sit tight!

As mentioned in other entries, I got my pink slip in March because I had signed a temporary one-year contract in June of last year and was not guaranteed another year at Mission Oak in Tulare.  Because of this, I hopped on the job-search train and began Mission: Feed my Family by finding a job.  I applied to several places and interviewed at two.  I was offered a job at a middle school in Lemoore (a smaller town about 30 minutes west of Tulare and 30 minutes south of Fresno.  Living either place wouldn't really be convenient and we wouldn't want to live in Lemoore.)  I approached my current principal with this offer and he told me that he intends to have me back, but he can't say anything official until the district says he can.  I really didn't want to take the middle school job, so I told them "no" based on the 80% chance Mission Oak gave me.

I started to settle into the likelihood that I would be returning and began to plan for next year including taking over the yearbook.  I LOVED creating the yearbook my senior year of high school (I did about 75% of the book that year), and I knew early on that that would be a rewarding part of teaching.  It's  a class that students sign up for because they want to, which completely alters the mood of the class.  I didn't have to beg: Doug, the current teacher, was so giddy that I was interested that he practically gift-wrapped the sucker for me.  He couldn't wait to get out of the yearbook seat!  I was thrilled!  This was going to be great.  In the mean time, I kept applying for other jobs as the gig in Mission Oak was not official yet.  It took a while, but all the returning teachers received their contract, while I sat idly by, waiting for any time of surety.  Then Sanger High School called.

Sanger High is a nationally acclaimed school that I had first really heard about when a couple of friends from Fresno Pacific got hired there over the past few years.  It's a small town just south east of Fresno that attracts a lot of FPU grads to apply as it is just 15 miles from the campus.  Then, during my summer of professional development last year, our instructors mentioned Sanger High and its reputation for turning things around and making a successful campus.  They were named one of America's Best High Schools by U.S. News and World Report in 2008 AND 2009.  There has also been a lot of published studies on what that school is doing to achieve in the world of standardized testing and the exit exam.  It's the same demographic and socio-economic status as Mission Oak, so it's not the students; it must be the administration, both on campus and at the district office.  Needless to say, a job here is certainly appealing.  Graham works in Fresno now, too, so being able to move just down the road from his work AND being near all of our good college friends seemed like an awesome idea to me. 

I went back and forth about what to do, though, because we probably want to have our kids here in Tulare and my department here is so amazing AND they pay about $3k more a year.  Tulare still wasn't a done deal, so I needed to watch out for myself.  I blazed through the first interview with Sanger, thanks to my lucky interview shoes, and was called as a top-two applicant for a final interview with the principal.  That interview was so casual and comfortable, and I could already tell this man knew what he was talking about.  Plus, the two AP's were so supportive and welcoming.  As I walked to my car, one of the AP's called me back, saying they were going to briefly speak with the other applicant, and then the principal would like to talk to me once again.  I hung out in a waiting area near the office until they called me in an offered me the job.  I was ecstatic!  He even said that after this year, the yearbook teacher was ready to step down from that position, and he was eager to put me in that spot because of my interest and experience in the field.  I told them I needed one day to talk with my husband and figure everything out.  We left in good spirits about the next year.

The next day, after alerting my current principal of the situation, he asked for 24 hours to get an official word from the superintendent about the funding for my position.  I asked Sanger for one more day, but he said he needed to know by 5:00.  Oh, and this was at 3:30.  I prayed and called my mom, dad, mother in law, and Graham, and we all finally decided that Sanger is the better call.  I called the principal there and accepted the job. He said "You just made the best decision of your life!" and I thought "Thank you, Lord, for that big blinking sign I was praying for!"  He said he'd talked to my principal and was even more excited to have me on now that he knew that my principal and superintendent were fighting for me.  Tulare's principal came to my room not 15 minutes later and said they plan to keep me on.  No contract until the budget is approved on June 15th, though.  I'd already taken the job so I stuck with it, and that is that.

So to close this unnecessarily long story, I am now a Sanger High Apache and start my duties as Freshman Cheer Advisor on the 20th.  Yep, that's part of the gig, too, but the Varsity/JV advisor is really nice and is SO excited to have an extra pair of hands ( that can clap in rhythm) helping out with the girls.