During the summer of 2015, I happened upon a UGA-System human resources page that had a link to a part-time English/Humanities position at a school I’d never even heard of. Without a lot of thought, I read the job description, uploaded a cover letter, my CV, and applied for the job. I don’t even think I told Ryan. I was just sitting on the couch with the laptop and on a whim, thought “that sounds fun.”
I hadn’t taught professionally since the spring of 2011 at UTC just before we transitioned into the Army and out of Chattanooga. I loved that season of teaching, but also knew that as seasons do, it was ending and I was okay with it.
Only a few days after submitting my application materials, I got a phone call from the Humanities dean and was offered the opportunity to come to campus for a teaching demonstration/interview. That went well and I was hired on the spot, pending a background check and some other HR red tape.
In the fall of 2015, what was only ever intended to be a few classes for measly part-time pay evolved at the very last minute into the blessing of five classes, full-time pay with much scheduling grace and flexibility allowing me to still function in my duties as a homeschooling mother.
That full-time scenario repeated itself again for the spring semester of 2016 and again at the very last minute for fall semester of 2016. Each time we knew this was the path the Lord had for our family and we all chose to walk in it obediently.
The time has come again to recognize that one season has ended. In doing so I wanted to take a moment to focus my thoughts and feelings on this wonderful opportunity I have had to teach outside the home as well as celebrate my “retirement,” yet again.
For many years of my life, a significant part of my identity has come from being a teacher. I get that fix teaching my own kids, leading Bible studies, and the like. There is something about standing up in front of an entire classroom of (mostly) eager students and sharing messages about clear writing and thought-provoking reads. I am also sharing messages about life, hard work, perseverance, and diligence. These past three semesters have been life-giving to me and I pray that they have been for my students also. This time has benefitted our family as well. We have pulled together and been a team like never before. It’s meant a lot to see Ryan and the kids support me in something just as I am always willing to do for them. That’s just what family does. We champion the causes and success of the individual because in doing so it brings joy to the whole.
However, it hasn’t all been wonderful. There have definitely been some huge sacrifices we have all made and the strain and stress I’ve personally felt is not something meant to be sustained long term. I am grateful that I will be more available to my family and that things we all prioritize (kids’ school, dinners around the table, less evening stress to coordinate activities with my late afternoons, and more) will now return to their more easy-going pace. I’ve sorely missed sleep, exercise, fellowship with friends, and opportunities to get out and go when the mood strikes. Work has definitely taken a huge chunk of time and energy and I’m grateful for the flexibility to walk away.
What I want to remind myself of is this:
I used to get so bent out of shape when I had to set things aside that were important to me, either permanently or for a season. I don’t always relish change and the feelings of chaos that ensue. What this season of work has taught me is that God created me with desires and gifts that I can use to bring him glory. The look of that can and will change throughout my entire life.
I had a plan right out of college to teach for 30 years in the same school system. That evolved into part-time teaching that was very on-again, off-again while I was having my babies. That evolved into a season of homeschooling, the length of which is still to be determined. That has evolved into online grading, teaching LEGO camps and co-ops. That has evolved into more part-time/full-time college teaching and that is now ending.
I see my teaching career much the way Army life teaches us to hold on to friendships. We say, “it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.”
East Georgia State College,
Thank you for the opportunities you have given me to flex my professional teacher muscle. Thank you for the chances I’ve had to mentor and influence a group of students who, in large part, do not have many adults in their lives who are cheering for their success. Thank you for the collegiality and professional connections once again. Thank you for the paychecks and retirement contributions. Thank you for the entry on my resume and the award I received that will one day speak to another dean about my employability. Thank you for what you have taught me (again) about work, my own priorities, and what it means to be a teacher.
It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.
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