This is a story that took place almost 11 years ago. I can count on one hand those who have heard it before. Looking back, it seems like a lifetime ago and like it happened to an entirely different person. I’m much stronger than this now. Or hopefully, wiser.
I had just moved to upstate New York, without a job. But, there was a teacher shortage, especially in inner-city City*, so I was confident that I could find a position.
Armed with my gray silk suit with a soft pink shell underneath, I tried to radiate confidence. There were so many people applying that Central Office had people interviewing candidates who usually didn’t do so. Looking back, I think they were told to weed out the crazies and obvious incompetents, but to put a gold star “hire him/her” sticker on everyone else’s resume.
I was called back to interview with Nick*. He put me instantly at ease and we joked, laughed and flirted through the interview. I left feeling incredibly confident. I dashed off a quick thank you note to Nick and dropped it in the mail the next day(aaah, the days before email was used for everything).
Two weeks later, I still hadn’t heard anything and I was starting to get worried.
But, then, I got a message from Nick- before cell phones were so common, of course, so the message was on my answering machine. He was calling to check up on me, to see if I’d heard anything from Central Office yet. That he could tell I would be an amazing edition to the school system.
I called him back and we chatted for a while. He said that he would talk to people at Central Office for me and see what he could do. He knew they were still hiring teachers, so he told me not to worry.
The next day, Nick called me back and said that he had an interesting opportunity for me. Because there were so many first year teachers that year, the mentor teachers would be really busy observing their interns. Mentor teachers needed to observe their interns around 25x/year. Central Office was trying something new and hiring a few substitute teachers specifically to cover the mentor teachers’ classrooms while they observed.
Each of us “Career in Teaching” substitutes would be assigned a group of mentor teachers, who would have to call us in advance to schedule time with us, and each mentor teacher could only request 1 hour of our time per visit. Sometimes we’d have to go to multiple schools in one day, other days we might work with a few teachers in the same school, and other days, we might just have to work an hour. Or, if no one needed us that day, we’d have the day off. No one was allowed to call us in the morning and ask if we could come in that day: we were to tell them we were busy, even if we weren’t, if they tried that.
We’d get to know the kids and the teachers because it would be the same ones all year. And we’d still get paid the same as if we were a full-time teacher. Where the hell is this job now? Damn, would that be nice.
I wasn’t really sure because I wanted a classroom of my own since that was what my previous experience was. I’d never substituted before and wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of being a sub.
But, Nick was very convincing, saying that it would be a good way for me to get to know more of the schools in the district. All of us CIT subs would be guaranteed the school and grade level we wanted for the next school year. He also said that he would be the one leading this new program and would serve as my mentor.
He talked me into it. Especially because I was nervous about the possibility that I might not get a job at all and then I’d end up being a regular on-call substitute: having to wait until each morning to see if I would be working, making a lot less money, and having no benefits.
So, I agreed.
Each week, Nick, the two other CIT subs, and I would have a meeting to talk about how things were going. We shared horror stories and tips for getting through. We also discussed the different schools.
Nick and I became friends. We talked about the city(which I didn’t like) and even my relationship. Nick knew I had moved there to be with X, and he would ask me how things were going. He started calling me a few times each week, just to chat.
I was happy to have a friend.
If you already see where this is going, you are much smarter than I was back then.
Wednesday’s Pour Your Heart Out will continue this story.
*Not his real name and I’d prefer not to mention the exact city, as “Nick” still teaches there, as far as I’m aware. And despite what ended up happening, I do believe he is a good teacher. And I chose to handle it in my own way, so I’d hate to say something that would cause him problems at this point.