Monday, June 12, 2017

A Dozen Years in Education

2016-2017 School Year 
The Woodlands, Texas 

The "Backstory"
This school year was my 12th year of teaching, my 6th year in the great state of Texas and my 4th year in my current district. During my 12 years in education I have taught beginning, middle school, high school, marching and even jazz bands. I have also taught elementary music ALL 12 of those years. For the past 4 years I have also worn the "art" hat and taught art as well as theater arts TEKS and helped maintain a campus art department. I have been the district Honor Choir co-director in both of my Texas school districts and have helped developed full curriculums and programs for this organization. In addition, I have received numerous grants and awards as well as being named the "Teacher of the Year" and "Teacher of Today" in the 2010-2011 school year. 

On paper I have it all and have had some pretty FANTASTIC experiences during these 12 years. But as I enter my 13th year I am realizing that it is more than just a good resume... It's WHO you know! And I have learned that I may just not have what it takes. 

You see, I have always wanted to be a band director. In fact, I knew in my sophomore year of high school that I wanted to be a band director and help change the lives of many students as my high school directors did for me. I entered college with a clear major and path and did a 140 hour/ 5 year degree in just 4 years and was eager to get out there. During my time in Oklahoma I taught at 2 districts and taught both elementary music AND band, including both beginning and high school bands. I developed and grew my band program from 40 to over 100 students and made a well known name for myself and my campus during my tenure. When Chris accepted his teaching position at Aldine ISD in 2011 I just knew I would land an amazing Texas Band job and life would be PERFECT!


The summer of 2011 came and went and it was late June and I did not have band job leads. I had been offered 4 different band positions but they were all about 1.5 hours away from our temporary residence in Conroe, TX where we would be living with my in-laws  or they were in TERRIBLE parts of Houston ISD and I was just too scared to take them thinking I would land something closer to home. (Rosenburg ISD, Pasadena ISD, Anauac ISD and Cesar Chavez HS in HISD).  I got nervous again so I decided to apply for elementary music positions as well. Within 2 days of applying for elementary music jobs I was interviewing and was offered a job in a large district in north Houston just 20 minutes from our residence. I accepted the offer and thought "Well at least my foot is in the door". Ha... little did I know what would happen next! 

During my first year at Spring ISD I became pregnant unexpectedly with our 2nd child, Luke. I had Luke during the summer of 2012 and oddly enough was offered a band director position while still at the hospital after having him. This position was at a very wealthy and fancy private school in Conroe but would not have maternity leave and the pay was about 1/3 of what I would be making at a public school so Chris and I turned down that offer. 

A year later I interviewed for a few band jobs, one within my current district, and was rejected for each. (Pearland ISD, WISD and Huntsville ISD). I did land on my feet within WISD as an elementary Fine Arts teacher at my current position. The head band director advised me to stay in district so when new band jobs came open he would consider me. Well that is all he ever did as in the past 4 years there have been 5 different openings and I have not gotten one of them including this past year. I have been patient but the heart wants what the heart wants and MY HEART wants to teach band and obviously God has different plans. 

That is the "back story" but here is this year's experience:
2016-2017 School Year- CCH 
This year started off very well after what would be labeled as the BEST SUMMER EVER! I came back refreshed and mentally ready for another year of molding students. The year began well with a new administrator who I respected and was doing a tremendous job "flipping" our campus. After Thanksgiving she resigned and we got a new administrator, who also did a good job with our campus. 

Shortly after Thanksgiving my co-teacher, the PE Coach, got injured and remained out of pocket for the rest of the school year. This meant I had to do my job and her job. Later in the spring semester my PE aide also went out on an injury which then left me with a team of myself, 1 aide and the rest were subs. This was exhausting to say the least but I made it work and these subs actually helped me so much in the end and are now true friends. 

As the rest of the fall semester and spring semesters would pan out I would be doing multiple jobs and many that were not only mine or my teaching partners but also campus wide improvement or administrative jobs as well. I became the "Git R Done" girl and all excess jobs or demands just naturally fell on me (I AM good at that though... Seriously, if you want it done and done RIGHT, give it to me).  This might have dug my own grave in the district as these many duties caused minor issues for me in the Spring semester. I was hardly focusing on my own music and art job at all. The stress and more so the frustration was getting to me and I started to gain weight. By the end of the year and time of this post I had gained 25 pounds or more and depression had started to sink in like never before. 

In March I knew it was time to move on and this next year (2017-2018) Luke would be in Kindergarten and out of the advanced PreK program (which was part of my "plan") so I began to apply for band jobs yet again after the previous summer just not having the emotional stamina. I had a great lead with a friend from church at a school in my current town which was all but a shoe-in, or at least I thought. Then I got rejection #1 in late April and took it VERY hard. I had a very bad attitude but kept praying and tried to keep the faith. 

Shortly after that rejection I was offered a job at a local district not far from my house but it was for elementary music and not band. The whole situation was not what I wanted and would be a lateral move and after nearly a week of praying and deliberating I turned down the offer. This may come back to bite me in the butt but it is what it is. 

The month of May came and I was crazy busy with end of the year programs of my own plus those of my teaching partner. It literally was the most hectic and stressful close of a year of my entire career. I was holding events like musicals, field day, End of Year Awards, Talent Show and other school wide fundraising events like Staff Basketball games.

Meanwhile my husband was asked to come and interview at the most prestigious district near us and while there was not a single HS math job open at the time of the interview, because of his amazing STAAR scores and personality (I have always said you either love him or hate him... and they, and me too, LOVED him) they offered him a job. After prayer and deliberation he accepted the offer and will now have his dream job in a dream district. Chris's personality is just to teach and do his thing without advancement or recognition at all... pretty much what I do currently. All the meanwhile, I am dying to get noticed and offered a job. 

The month of May continued and I do not know how I did it looking back but during the stress, turmoil and chaos of this month I still found time to interview for 6 more positions, 5 of which were band director positions, and got 6 more rejections by the end of the month, many of which I was notified by email (Conroe ISD, WISD, Tomball ISD, Hunstville ISD).  My own district didn't even let me know they filled the position, I found out via small town gossip. 

So here we are first day of June and I have no offers and barely any leads. I have gotten emails from local Fine Arts directors explaining the high level of candidates applying for the same jobs I am. I have cried more in the past 6 weeks than the past 6 years combined. I feel burned out in education and especially my current position yet it looks like I will have another year of this come August. I feel like a terrible wife crying over "spilled milk" all while my AMAZING hubby is smiling in his new position and chapter in his life. I am depressed and quite frankly losing my faith. 

I am sitting here praying and listening to my favorite "Songs of Faith" saying "Wherever He leads I'll go" and I truly mean that but it still hurts. Today, I looked at the help wanted ads for REAL jobs... REALLY? Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be where I am at 12 years ago. Even 6 years ago I just knew I would be directing bands and life would be "perfect".
That was my plan... Not His! 

I have no idea where I will be come August and I hope in the next  7 weeks I can keep the faith and change my bad attitude. There is lots of other personal stuff going on as well and I know this is a TEST. I fear I do not have what it takes to teach band in this area of Texas or the whole state for that matter. I feel that I will never get over this want and desire to teach band and not elementary music and will live miserable in my career for the remaining 18-20 years. I am embarrassed in my own district for yet again not being selected (which really means I am not viewed as a good enough teacher) for the past 4 years of openings. I am depressed... I am praying daily and continuously. What else can I do? I know how to keep the faith. I was born and raised in the church and am literally a faithful Christian yet I feel so lost? My current pastor preached a sermon once saying "When the going gets tough, you just keep doing what you know to do". I know to keep the faith and I know GOD is in control! 

My tag line is always GOD IS GOOD... ALL THE TIME and I DO believe this but it seems so cliche right about now. I KNOW He is good and He is good ALL the time. Even in the VALLEY... I know this and I believe this, but why am I not feeling it? 

Chris tells me all the time that I need to LEARN to be happy. My mother used to tell me to "Bloom where you are planted". I guess they are both right... I need to be happy in my current situation and CONTINUE (because I DO count my blessings and name them one by one) to be grateful for all I have, including the ACTUAL job I DO have and my beautiful family, home and friends as well as many other things. Thank You, Jesus for these and many other blessings YOU have given to me. 

I am sure there are readers who are rolling their eyes or who have already stopped reading 10 paragraphs ago and will bash and condemn me both in private and in public but this is how I feel. I have learned in my adult years, that when I share my personal feelings, frustrations and thoughts is when I get in trouble the most but I guess I needed to get it off my chest. Judge me, condemn me or bash me if you feel the need but this is how I currently FEEL... please forgive me! 

I am going to continue to do what I KNOW to do, which is have my quiet time and pray to my God and Saviour. I do not know what will happen in the next few weeks but God does so I will just go and try to get rid of my attitude, find my faith again and try to enjoy my short, small summer. 

It is my tag line, I believe it and I will say it yet again... 

God is Good... ALL the time (Even in the valley). 

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