Category Archives: teaching

God opened the door and I walked through it.

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3807565429_1758c76ebc_zWhen I was growing up, I always wanted to be an astronaut.  While everyone else was going to the beach, I spent high school Spring Break at Space Camp (because I wasn’t nerdy enough already), and eventually ended up working there during and after college.  There is just something I have always loved about the space program (I get that from my dad).

By sophomore year of college, I started to realize that I really didn’t like majoring in engineering and that I wasn’t REALLY going to be able to be an astronaut.  This left me kind of adrift – I had never really considered what I was going to realistically do with my life.  I changed majors seven times before finally graduating in Math, mostly because that’s what got me out the fastest.  After graduation, I decided that what I really wanted to do was be a nurse, so I spent three years in nursing school in Alabama.

Upon graduation, I moved back home and made it six months at the charity hospital before leaving to save my sanity (I am ridiculously empathetic and kind of a crybaby, so I would pretty much go home and cry every night).  I managed to get a job for a local business magazine doing accounts payable, which led me to eventually go back to school and get an MBA.

Getting an MBA was great – I loved being back in school and studying and made a lot of friends and eventually landed a great job that required a move to Houston.  After an initial period of homesickness, I ended up loving it there.  When my sisters started having kids, though, I felt like it was time to move back home, so I changed jobs and moved back home.

Fast forward to May 1, 2007 – I had been at my new job six months, and even though it was essentially the same job I had had in Houston, I found myself hating it.  The thought of staying there for 29.5 more years until I was eligible to retire was intolerable, and I went through a little bit of a midlife crisis, because here I was almost 35 years old and I still didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up.  It took me two weeks of researching to decide that I might want to teach high school.  Both of my sisters and my mom teach, so I got a lot of support for the idea from the very beginning.

So I proceeded to plan it all out – I had already missed the cutoff for the teacher certification course that summer, so I was stuck at my job for another year.  I figured I could save money and get certified the following summer – I had little to lose, because I was so unhappy at my job that I would be looking for something else anyway, so if teaching wasn’t a good fit, I could start looking at that point.

But, God has a sense of humor, and less than a week after I had decided all of this, one of the local Catholic schools had a teacher leave unexpectedly, and a friend of mine (who knew I had been thinking of teaching) mentioned it to one of the administrators and got me an interview for the next day (my 35th birthday).  Private schools don’t have the same requirements for teachers as public schools, so I was going to be able to teach with my Math degree as long as I got 12 hours of education classes in the first two years.  Within two days, I had signed a contract to start teaching in August of 2007, just two months away.  It was a terrifying, exhilarating experience, but it really felt like God opened the door for me and that I should walk through it.

Whenever I tell people that I teach at an all boys Catholic high school, I can see their brain immediately jumping to Dead Poets Society.  People who have not spent any time in an all boys school (or in high schools in general), are generally baffled as to why anyone would voluntarily spend that much time with adolescents, but I have to defend them as being awesome.  It’s like living in an alternate universe from 7:25 to 2:47, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As a deer longs for running streams…

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deerFor my first six years of teaching, my schedule on a school day started by snoozing my alarm until 6:30 AM, which put me frantically trying (and repeatedly failing) to get to school by 7:15 AM.  To say that I was not a morning person is a GROSS understatement.  In my pre-teaching life, I was a cubicle nerd and was able to hide out alone until the time/caffeine balance had been restored (usually around 9:30 AM), but teaching is an alternate universe where I am expected to be “on” by 7:25 AM.  For an introverted non-morning person, this has always been a challenge. 

When I decided to go back to Mass, I didn’t start by making a commitment to go to Mass on Sundays, which would have been a completely logical and normal place to start.  Instead, my first Mass back was at the ridiculous hour of 6:00 AM on a random Wednesday morning, freaking out my dad (who went home and told my mom, “You will never believe who was at Mass this morning.”).  I quickly fell into a habit of going to  Mass twice a week in the mornings – I wanted to go more, but my parish doesn’t have Mass until 8:00 on the other days, so it didn’t work out.  This went on for several weeks and I was finding that I actually felt better and was in a better mood on the days that I got up early and went to Mass, in spite of getting up an hour and a half earlier.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that there were other parishes that had 6:00 AM Mass, and soon I was going to Mass every day and feeling better than I had ever felt – it really transformed my life. (But I refuse to accept that I might have become a morning person.)

I use a variety of prayer books in class, but this year I have a new one called Psalms 2000 – it has a short inspirational story and then part of a psalm (working numerically through them).  The kids have really enjoyed it – I even tried to switch to a different one a few weeks ago and I had multiple kids in multiple periods ask, “What happened to the book with the stories in it?”  In October, I got to Psalm 42 (below) and realized that this is EXACTLY what I had been going through for the previous two months. I love this story so much, and the words just really expressed so well what was happening in my life – I was experiencing a thirst for God.

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The one where I out myself as having a juvenile sense of humor

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I was flipping through this month’s edition of U.S. Catholic in the library at school today and I stumbled upon this sentence and just can’t seem to stop laughing.

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I just don’t normally associate prophets who wrote books of the Bible with being “the pooper of every party”, but that is going to be my new favorite thing to say to people.  I even used the expression in class today and I’m sure you can imagine that it was quite well received.

The full quote is:

“Woe to those who yearn for the day of the Lord!  It will be darkness, not light!  As if someone fled from a lion, and a bear met him; or as if on entering the house, he rested his hand against the wall, and a snake bit it.” (Amos 5:18-19)

So yeah, I get it – he is definitely the pooper of all parties.  I just hope I don’t start giggling inappropriately if I ever encounter this reading in Mass.

This is what I get for teaching at an all boys school.