Two weeks ago, I was in another of my catastrophic I’m-going-to-end-up-driving-a-garbage-truck-naked moods, despite having secured an interview for a position at OSU the following week. On a whim (subconsciously influenced once again by The One that Got Away, hahahahaha), I e-mailed a man with whom I had spoken last year at the TeachOhio job fair. He was the dean at The Charles School, a charter school early college in Columbus, and had wanted to schedule an interview…but Lima called that very day with a job offer and I never interviewed. Anyway, I sent him my current resume with a note saying, “I know it’s a long shot, but…”
Within about an hour, I got a call asking me to interview for a new position. No redundant 42-page application, no hackneyed essay questions, just a conversation from a year ago that apparently made enough of an impression to open a door that I’d forgotten about. For about a month and a half, I’ve prayed that if God wants me in the classroom, He has to show me the way, and here it was. I was offered the job the day after my interview, but I wanted to hear back about the OSU position first, just to confirm my intuition that high school was still the place for me right now.
I mustn’t forget to mention that this charter school is not all rainbows and unicorns. The physical facilities are worse even than those in Lima, and I would once again be joining a small staff and most likely expected to play a lot of different roles. I would be teaching physical science, which is probably my weakest subject…but even at the interview, I was already brainstorming the types of projects which are much easier to integrate for physical science than perhaps any other content area. After talking with a classmate who worked in the same family of charter schools, I was reminded that no school is perfect, no student is perfect, no job is perfect, and that is something that I struggle with a lot, as a consummate romantic and idealist. As I learned more about the school, its resemblance to my previous district began to give me pause. But somehow I knew that this was God giving me a chance to get back on the horse that threw me, but now I wasn’t so sure I wanted to.
I accepted the job yesterday, but instead of the peace (and sometimes elation) that comes with having made a decision, I felt not a small amount of trepidation. This anxiety of course freaked me out, but as I interrogated that feeling I realized that this may not necessarily be unhealthy, for my year in Lima taught me the importance of frequent reality checks and keeping my eyes as wide open as possible. Before I officially decided, I was excited by the potential of a new job, but after I said yes I felt inexplicably trapped. What if I was disappointed again by the students and the school? What if it was all too much for me to handle? But if I have learned nothing else this year, it is that no situation or circumstance or person has the power to bring me joy, and I am the one who must choose to accept joy every day.
As I was processing and praying last night and this morning, I realized that though I have often resisted this summer of waiting, I needed it to renew my dependence on God. And that is what I most fear losing again, that fickle and fragile love for Him that I have worked so hard to regain. But I prayed for balance, for boundaries, for priorities, for forgiveness and the ability to forgive, for trust and trustworthiness, and I know God will provide.
Last night I started reading a book given to me by a dear friend when I moved from Columbus at exactly this time last year. When the Pieces Don’t Fit describes a teacher in an inner-city school and it could have been written about me, although to be honest she faced much worse than I did last year. But I saw my reflection in the way she questioned God’s will in bringing her to such a place, the way she won students’ respect by showing them she cared, and the way she got students to believe that they mattered. (Well, that last one is still a goal of mine.) It was just very encouraging, and the title of the book echoed the words I’d used days before to describe this opportunity at the Charles School.
In my experience, God doesn’t do blatant confirmation very often, but the little assurances are nice. Before my interview, I went to Jo-Ann’s and optimistically bought a bunch of school supplies, one of which was a set of bulletin board decorations shaped like…puzzle pieces. My thought was to have a theme for my incoming freshmen, “Where Do I Fit?” since high school is a time of identity formation and I’d like to be a positive influence on that process. And it looks like I’m going to find my fit as well.