Live, Style, Teach

Reset Button

Political ramifications notwithstanding, I like kind of like Eric Fehrnstorm’s idea of starting over:

“Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign,” Fehrnstrom said. “Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again.”

Have you ever had an Etch-a-Sketch moment, a time when you wished you could turn your life over, shake it up, and start drawing a new picture? I had mine last year when I decided to quit teaching. It was an emotional decision – I started teaching when I was 23, and before that, I babysat, volunteered in the church nursery on Sunday mornings, and had a summer job as a teacher’s assistant at our church’s Child’s Day In program. My mother was a teacher; so was my great-grandfather.

My friends and family thought I should major in education at Trinity University, but I stubbornly clung to the idea that I could do something besides work with children (I am a Leo after all) and pursued sociology and psychology as my major and minor, respectively. I loved studying group and individual behavior but had no idea how to apply my knowledge of Death and Dying, Sociology of Sex Roles (thanks, O. Z. White, for introducing me to my first transgendered person), and Insanity in a Troubled Society in the real world -could I get a job as a gender roles watchdog? Wisely, I decided to wait a few years to apply to grad school, and I put my Trinity education to good use as a cocktail waitress and professional picture framer (I’m not kidding.)

After a car accident necessitated a move back to Houston, I spent my recuperation cross-stitching, playing handbells in our church bell choir, and contemplating my future. I reluctantly concluded what everyone else knew all along: I was meant to be a teacher. I got a job at the preschool I attended as a precocious 4-year-old (someday I’ll tell you about the Barbie doll incident) and applied to the teacher certification program at the University of Houston.

It was Dr. Mountain, my Foundations of Reading Instruction professor, who encouraged me to go to graduate school, and after two and a half years, I received my Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (with a 4.0 GPA, thankyouverymuch, which had absolutely no impact on anything but made up for my occasionally lackadaisical approach to academics at Trinity and was a source of pride for me and my sweet grandmother, Oma, who paid for graduate school with the caveat that I would have to pay her back if I didn’t finish the program.) I got my first job at Liestman Elementary in Alief ISD, the school at which I did my student teaching and began 15 years of dedication to the children and families at Liestman, Smith, Briargrove, and, finally, Presbyterian School.

My passion for education was all-consuming – I worked late and on the weekends and spent countless hours and thousands of dollars buying books and educational materials for my classroom. When I packed everything up last May, I had hundreds of boxes of books, games, resources, manipulatives, and school supplies, most of which I donated to Presbyterian School. I stacked the boxes on either side of the hallway, and as I left, walking past 15 years of my life, I pretended I was Sam Malone, closing down the bar for the last time.

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