Monday, April 26, 2010

Perseverance

I was about six months pregnant when I decided I wanted to go back to the teaching profession. Rewind 8 years earlier when out of sheer luck I was hired to work in a public school in the South Bronx teaching first graders who spoke no English. At that time NYC was DESPERATE for teachers and they would hire anyone who had a BA and a pulse ;) My first few weeks were awesome and nerve wracking at the same time. I remember preparing my classroom everyday, hanging up the children's paintings, preparing lesson plans as I rode the train home, a 1 1/2 hour ride. The principal would observe my class and encourage me on how well I was doing. He even wanted to have me in the leadership program because he believed I had that much potential. It was a dream come true for me. Though I was so happy to be teaching I remember feeling intensely overwhelmed at the fact that I had no experience, no idea what I was doing AND my primary language was English not Spanish. A gradual wave of self doubt and fear began to overtake me and I let it get the best of me to the point that I worried on the train, as I taught my class, as I prepared lesson plans; all I kept thinking was "I'm a fraud and I am robbing these children, I don't know what I am doing"...within a few months after these fearful episodes.. I quit my job. The assistant principal tried to convince me that I would learn the job as I continued and that all teachers have self doubt the first few years on the job. I failed to accept this and on the last day of teaching my class I remember bringing in seashells for each of my kids and teaching a lesson about the ocean. As I packed my car with supplies and drove home I was stunned at what I had done and my horrible decision...I was a quitter and I failed.
There are memories that come within our minds that sometimes still sting when we think about them. Everytime I think about that time period in my life a sense of shame and sadness covers me because I find it hard to believe that I let such a golden opportunity pass me by and I failed those kids.
After that experience I took on a job working in a doctor's office and hid behind a desk and a computer for the next several years making about $20,000 less than what I was worth. I would answer phones and type and file and say yes sir and smile. As the years progressed the spirit within me kept saying "you are so much more than this". It was not until I was pregnant with my daughter that I finally decided to go back to a profession which I had so quickly abandoned years ago. By this time NYC had changed it's requirements and when I went to the Department to see if I could find a job as a teacher, the advisor told me "no chance". Since my college degree was not in education I would need to go back to school and either accumulate 30 credits in education or go back and get a Master's degree. I had no money for that, no time, and I was about to have a child. Was I doomed to answering phones for the rest of my life? I thought about it and made a decision. If it took whatever I had to do, every dollar, ounce of time; if I have to breast feed while studying a text book, I was going back to school!
I applied for the education program at Molloy College where tuition was approximately $20,000 a year. I had NO idea where I was going to get the money, none. I knew it was highly unrealistic to consider going to school because I knew there was no way I could afford it. As luck and life would have it I met ANOTHER secretary at a chiropractor's office who told me she was enrolled at Touro College where under a special grant they were accepting students who had a BA in any discipline and the tuition was $525.00 a class, YUP! I was enrolled in Touro within weeks.
I have labored for the past 5 years slowly working towards this degree, working full time, being a mother, and going through life's ups and downs. But I did'nt quit.
Yesterday was the last class of my graduate coursework. I only have student teaching and two licensing exams and I am done. I will have a Master's degree in early childhood general and special education.
I am so grateful to God and to the people who have helped me because there is no way I could have done this without them. I am also thankful for this lesson in life; we may fail, many times but what matters is that you get back up again, and again, and again, and again...just keep it moving.
People, anything is possible. Anything.

7 comments:

Cheryl said...

Over from SITS..

What an inspiring post. Truly. We all have regrets - but not all of us get a second chance, or MAKE ourselves have a second chance. Good for you. You should be incredibly proud of yourself. And those kids you're going to teach? They're very lucky to have someone who has the life experience that you do. You are a true role model.

Now can we talk about your jewelry? BEAUTIFUL!!

I'll be back!

OC Fun Blog said...

WOW! That is so awesome. Congratulations, this is such a big accomplishment. I know this because for the past 5 years I have tried and tried to go back to school for the exact same profession. A semester here and there. You did it! It takes so much perseverence and that is so hard when sometimes it feels like too much to handle. It is nice to see that it can be done! Stopping by from SITS!

Michelle said...

That is incredible. Congratulations on your achievement. You are certainly in inspiration to many!

Stopping by from SITS.

Cindy said...

Thanks so much Michelle.

@ oc fun blog, I know it takes so much time. There were a few semesters when I could not take a class because of work or money, but keep on ;-)

@ cheryl, I'm glad u like the jewelry, I love this hobby, hmm maybe I can be a teacher who teaches jewelry making to young children....

Rachel Cotterill said...

That's an amazing and inspiring story - thank you. And all the best for the next chapter in your story!

Visiting to welcome you to SITS :)

Maggie said...

Beautifully said! You touched my heart today with this story. Thank you.

Kerry Neville Bakken said...

What an amazing story! Congrats on finishing your coursework. Cheers from SITS (and from a former Queens girl!).

http://mommamaybemad.blogspot.com/2010/04/to-sleep-perchance-to-dream.html