Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Journey South: The First Tuesday in August 2006

By the first week of August 2006 I was pretty worn out. I had already finished three classes at Ashland that summer and was beginning my fourth. Peter, the director of the program, describes the courses as a mental boot camp and that is a fairly accurate description. After one week of lugging around huge stacks of books and binders and interacting with some the best teaching minds (my own excluded) from schools and universities throughout the country, you are tired...after four or five you've reached a state of exhaustion you didn't think possible.

I was also a little bummed by that point of the summer. Earlier, I had gone to Rock Hill, SC for a teaching interview and been told that they didn't think I had enough experience. The same for another school I had been communicating with by phone. Just in last few days I had a phone conversation with another principal from Rock Hill that went something like this...
Principal: Well, when do you think you will move to South Carolina? 
Me: When you tell me I have a job. 
Principal: We aren't comfortable offering positions until we know the person has made that move. 
Me: I can't make a move like that without knowing that I will have a job when I get there. 
...At that point I pretty much resigned myself to yet another year of subbing. I didn't really mind subbing, in fact, there were days I very much enjoyed it, but I knew both financially and in job satisfaction that it wasn't a long term option. 

Earlier that summer we had some pretty bad storms and the electric was out for most of a weekend, so I ended up staying at Ashland and went to a local church that Sunday. It wasn't the best service I have ever experienced but there was one phrase that became my mantra that summer. The pastor held out a yardstick and said "You should never measure your problems by your ability to solve them, but by God's." No matter what I did, I could not give myself a job, that was out of my hands...I could only respond to the opportunities presented to me. At that moment it seemed as if another year of subbing was the opportunity, so I was determined to make it my best year ever.

Have you ever noticed how funny God's timing can be sometimes? I had no sooner reached that conclusion and started making some plans when I got a phone call, a voicemail message to be precise. I can even tell you the exact time I got it, not because it is ingrained on my mind, but because the first morning session of class always breaks at 10:30. The strange number and voicemail icon took me by surprise, but not nearly as much as the message, which was something like this...
"Hi, this is Jeff from Allendale-Fairfax High School. 
If you are still looking for a teaching position could you 
please call Vance at [whatever the school's number was]."
...Stunned would be a woefully inaccurate description, but it is the best I can do. I had to listen to the message a couple more times to make sure I heard it correctly and to get the number copied down. I think I was shaking when I dialed, both from nerves and an awareness that the second morning session of class always starts at 10:50.

When I reached the school Vance wasn't in, so I talked to Jeff long enough to learn that I should try calling after lunch and that he [Jeff] was an alumnus of Mount Union, a local rival of my own alma mater. We wrapped up the quick conversation and I went back to class a little shell-shocked. Later that afternoon I was finally able to make an appointment with Vance for a phone interview at 1pm the next day.

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