Taking that first step down a different path
I walked up to the front door, and unlocked it. The stock manager immediately comes up and gives me a bear hug and tells me he's really missed me. He's not an overly demonstrative person, so this really was a nice gesture. (We talk music, media, travel and all sorts of stuff-he's a very cool guy).
Two of the other managers comment that I've really lost some more weight. I have to admit, the last time I wore these pants was the week before I went on leave and they fit just right-now they are pretty loose.
The meeting got me back into the loop rather quickly and there was no shortage of things for me to do. We have a staff meeting Sunday night and I'll be presenting one part. There's that customer class I'm teaching at the end of the month and a pile of reference checks that are waiting for me to complete, too. I'm sure it could be worse, I could be hearing 'Oh, you were gone?' as if my presence didn't make an impression.
After the meeting was over, I gathered my presentation materials and left. I popped in to our sister store, where I again got some very warm welcomes. I fit in much better with the sister store. While I like the product line of my store and enjoy my department and customers, I LOVE their products. It shows, and they're always eager to chat. Today, one of the part timers even commented that she hadn't seen me in a while-I must be visiting when she's not working. I had to explain the absence.
Then it was time to head down the new path. Once I left the store, I found the Board of Education's employment office. The young lady at the front desk was very curt and overly efficient. She asked the purpose of my visit. I quickly explained I was interested in pursuing an education degree, that I am almost done with my associate's degree and would like to speak with someone about what action I needed to take and/or alternative certification procedures.
She asked me if I would wait. The woman with whom I would speak was busy, but would speak to me as soon as she was done. I was asked to sit in a waiting area. I wasn't budging from my seat until I knew what path I need to take for this dream to become reality.
Twenty minutes later, her meeting over, she asked me to join her in the office. She thanked me for being so patient and I mentioned that I had come unannounced, so a wait was to be expected. A remark was made about patience being a necessary skill for teachers.
We sat down and I explained my purpose. She laughed and said I had a lot of questions. I suspect they were the right ones, because we continued to talk for a half hour about the teaching needs of this county. She reiterated what has been said to me several times, that elementary education is the way to go. I'd pretty much decided on that, rather than high school (keep me away from the middle schoolers).
There always seems to be a need for Special Education teachers, and perhaps I might go that route. We spoke about Gameboy being enrolled in the ESE program and that as a parent, I think I could take on the challenge. It's easier to navigate something and lead a parent through the IEP process when you go through it, too. I made a statement to the effect of not wanting the teachers to have to do it all for my son-we are a partnership with the same goal. Get him educated to the best of his ability, without infringing on the instruction of others.
She was upfront and honest, that depending on the course work I had completed for my AA, I still might need four years of school. When I'd mentioned that I was considering going to USF, I detected an indifference to the school. (I must remember to research this-perhaps they don't prepare students very well?).
Then she recommended that I contact the Florida Department of Education and make an appointment to have them review my transcripts. They will pick it apart and determine what is the best route I should take towards the teaching degree. I am all for anyone offering guidance on this front.
As we were saying our goodbyes, she told me that she is known for talking more people out of teaching than into it. The implication was clear: she hadn't talked me out of it. When she told me four years, I hadn't said "Forget it." It just means that I won't be there until Chef Jr is halfway through middle school.
My dad had suggested I follow my passion for singing when I enrolled in college. "Get a degree in music". I'd scoffed at him, telling him that all I could do with a music degree is teach. I didn't want to. The irony is not lost on me that my passion in my job is training people, sharing new procedures and ideas. That's teaching. I'm good at it. Somewhere up there, my dad is laughing his ass off.