Not Ready for Pasture

by Cindi on June 6, 2019

In August of 2017, I stood before a group of HR Coordinators and announced my retirement. The word they heard, “retirement,” represented so many things for them – relaxing at the beach, reading good books, spending time with the grandkids – but that’s not what it meant to me. I explained to them that I was retiring from my position as a teacher-on-loan for our state department of education so that I could return to the classroom. Since I live only four miles from another state, I would have the opportunity to retire in one state and work in another.

Everyone encouraged me – “You’ll have no problem getting a job” – they even gave me teacher gifts, including a candle with a label reading “Dream Big” and a small light in the shape of an apple (for the teacher). I signed all the necessary paperwork and began filling out applications. I would be ready to teach on January 2, 2018.

And I waited. I did get an interview pretty quickly. It was such a scary experience I blogged about it. It was dreadful, but I still had hope.

I waited some more. I had another interview, and it was perfect! It was in a brand new school (I helped open a brand new school once! I talked about developing a positive culture and other “new school” topics.) The administrators were great – no “test” like I had during that first interview. I left feeling pretty good.

I never heard from them again.

Now my confidence was wavering. But I didn’t give up. Another interview came and went, and y’all! I just KNEW I got that job. I answered everything correctly. The principal gave me a tour of the school when we were done. That’s a good sign, right? But I never heard from him again either.

I swear that interview went so well, several months later I joked that I expected the principal to call me and say, “I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch to offer you the job. I’ve been in a coma….” Meanwhile, I was seeing article after article about a teaching shortage in the state where I was applying. What was happening?!!

So off I went to another interview…this one at the local community college. The Dean walked out with me: “I don’t know how this is going to turn out, but you need to get yourself back into a classroom. Every word that came out of your mouth was from the heart of a teacher.”

I waited. I did hear back from them: “We’ve decided to go in another direction…”

And that was it. I continued to apply. I applied for media assistant, Exceptional Children’s assistant, and substitute teacher. I offered to drive a school bus, take up money at the ballgames…I told them I love faculty meetings (I do.) But I heard nothing.

People told me it was age discrimination. I considered removing any indication of time from my resume, keeping my graduation date a secret. My cover letters explained that although I’m a grandparent, I’m still really cool. I told myself it was geographical, that jumping from state to state isn’t as easy as I had imagined.

A year and a half went by, and I wondered if I had ever known what I was doing as a teacher. Had I not had all those experiences? Hadn’t I taught (and loved) every kind of kid from the gang members to the cow milkers? Didn’t I hug my Latina Lovelies and my Vietnamese refugees every day? Hadn’t I taken school work to sick children in the hospitals and the homeless shelters? Hadn’t I sat on the floor and rocked a suicidal student in the rubber room of an Emergency Department?

Had I really been honored, along with 53 State Teachers of the Year, by a President of the United States in the Rose Garden at the White House? Hadn’t I met with a Secretary of Education three times? Had I learned about teaching all over the world at the first International Summit on the Teaching Profession?

Didn’t I train teachers, especially new ones, for almost a decade? Didn’t I speak to education majors and tell them what to expect? Didn’t I guide so many educators who were questioning their career choices?

But I couldn’t get a job as a substitute or even a bus driver? My heart was broken.

One day I started thinking about changing my plan, and I sent out resumes in my own state, wondering all the while if what I should really do was just give up and head out to pasture.

Within hours, I had emails, then….I had interviews, then….I was offered a job. In a school. With children.

The day I signed my contract, I asked my new principal if she was a magical fairy princess. I felt like I’d been tapped with a wand.

I’ll share my story with students someday. I’ll definitely share it with teachers. The moral will be “Never Give Up.” The other moral will be “Sometimes You Have to Change Your Dream (or Your Location.”)

I’ll keep my house near the ocean and get there when I can.

But this teacher is going HOME.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mrs. Warnecke June 8, 2019 at 5:43 pm

Love, love, love this blog. And really LOVE,LOVE,LOVE that you are back where you belong and that someone was intelligent enough to see that…..


2 Cindi June 9, 2019 at 12:35 am

As usual, your affirmation is all I need! Thank you!


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