The most unexpected thing happened this morning.
Before I reveal it, let me explain why this thing was so impactful.
When I was a senior in high school, trying to figure out what to study in college, I felt strongly that I was supposed to become a teacher. I went to college and earned a B.A. in Liberal Studies, a degree that works for pretty much one thing — teaching. I was accepted into a local graduate program but I declined because we wanted to have a family first.
Nearly 14 years went by and I decided to go back to school to get my teaching credential. My first term started on May 1, 2016. On April 29, almost exactly two years later, I will be done. I have my credential now but decided to get my master’s.
Which brings me to today…well, the last few months really. I have been burned out, done, over school, for a while now. I’ve likened my journey to dragging myself uphill through the mud. Of course, now that I’m nearly finished, the local district is in the midst of a hiring freeze.
Last week someone wished me luck getting hired, “No, seriously, good luck,” she said. “I just don’t know how that’s all going to work out considering there are hardly any openings.”
If I’m being honest, I live in a perpetual state of mental and emotional tension. On one hand, I think going back to school was exactly what I was supposed to do and on the other hand, I question why, if I made the right choice, are there no openings.
So here I am, six weeks from finishing grad school and doing everything other than my assignments, including my thesis, because I’m basically throwing a temper tantrum over the whole thing. I was so grumpy about it last night that I asked some friends to pray for me.
Then, this morning, I was taking the kids to school when my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number but answered anyway. “Is this Amelia?” the man asked. Over the phone, his voice reminded me of car tires on a gravel road. “It is,” I said, intrigued. “Hey! How you doing? This is Dennis Littky.”
I turned around to the kids and mouthed, “OHMYGAWD!”
For my curriculum design class, I have to read a book and then create a presentation to “sell” the book to potential readers (my peers). I chose The Big Picture, written by Dennis Littky, co-founder and former principal of The Met (Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center) in Rhode Island. My class, and Littky’s educational philosophy, encourage creative learning that taps into the things students are passionate about. Last week I decided to present The Big Picture to my peers in the form of a newspaper article since I never have the opportunity to write that way anymore. I tracked Littky down through his new organization and in an absolute shot in the dark, I sent an email asking for an interview.
And he called me this morning. And the littles were able to listen in on the entire conversation.
It occurred to me later, after the kids had been dropped off at school and I was settling in to complete some assignments, that last night my friends prayed I’d be determined and encouraged as I finish this race, then God sent me some encouragement by way of a nonconformist with an East Coast lilt and a radical philosophy of education. Littky is considered a rebel, an educator who dumped traditional instruction for the sake of his students but probably unknown outside the education community. To me, he is a hero to his students and an educator whose legacy will live on for generations.
I never mentioned that I’m burned out and frustrated, but as we ended our conversation he said, “Keep your spirit up, keep growing, stay strong, and don’t forget why you started in the first place.”