Friday, June 6, 2008

How did I get here?

Since I have 4 days to go before I actually start this blog - I thought I might record my journey to this point. This is truly for my own records, but some of you may be interested in reading.

I suppose if I were to truly trace this journey I would have to start when I was 8 years old and went to the house of some family friends whose son just returned from his "junior year abroad" in Paris, France. I had just started taking French in school and I was absolutely fascinated by his pictures and stories of living in that foreign city. I decided that night that I was going to do that too -- spend my junior year in college overseas in Paris, France.

I loved French and continued taking it from 2nd grade through college (it was my major). I never had the confidence to feel that I was truly fluent in the language, but I did enjoy reading it and hearing others speak. I was fortunate enough to attend a high school that offered an annual exchange program. Each year the high school would take 15 students to France for 3 weeks (stay with French families and attend French school) and then we would reciprocate and host 15 students here in America. While I thought I was a "shoe-in" to go my sophomore year, I was not accepted. This was a huge disappointment to me - but it was also a tremendous lesson in perseverance. I continued to study French and was accepted my junior year. This ended up to be a true blessing for I had one more year of French under my belt and that extra year of desire enabled me to truly experience all that I could while I was over there.

I returned from that experience even more desirous to spend an entire year abroad. So, I applied to Gettysburg College as a French major and continued to pursue that path. However, I never dreamed that I would meet the love of my life (which I did) and that I would choose to spend time with him rather than abroad (which I did). I knew that my experience in high school was enough to make this decision without any regrets - and I can honestly say that I have NO regrets to this day.
Geoff and I both have a desire to travel and at one point we plotted and schemed to take a trip to Europe. We had planned to stay at Bed and Breakfasts from Paris to Rome - and tour some of the great French vineyards. Again we never dreamed that we would be blessed with a family so soon (which we were) and that we would choose to stay in America and raise three children rather than take this trip of a lifetime (which we did). Again, we can both honestly say that we have NO regrets in making that decision.

When I graduated from college I truly had no idea what I wanted to do with that education. I used to think that I wanted to teach, but I quickly realized that I did not want to teach French to high school students. I then considered becoming an international flight attendant (we called them stewardesses at the time), but decided that my personality did not fit with plastering a smile on my face for 12 hours at a time. Since my favorite subject of all time was Constitutional Law I also briefly considered going to law school, but my LSAT scores were only mediocre and besides - I was ready to get married and stop studying. So, I "endured" the career of financial market research analyst until I became a mom. At that point I knew that was my chosen profession: I wanted to raise my own children and not have a daycare do the job for me.

I was fortunate enough to have that dream come true for 15 years. However financial circumstances dictated that I needed to do something - at least part time - to help with cashflow. I was asked to be the part-time secretary for the private school that Mandy was attending and I readily accepted. This would allow me to remain in touch with Mandy (my youngest) on a daily basis, and it would bring in the necessary cash to help with financial obligations. Never in my wildest imagination did I dream that two weeks later I would be asked to take the full-time position of 6th grade teacher at this same private school. I thought they were crazy for even considering me in this position: I had no training nor any desire to teach 13 adolescent students (my own children would attest to my lack of patience!) However, it was VERY evident that this was God's will for my life - and I reluctantly accepted. I am ashamed to admit that I was really quite angry with God for the first 3 months of this new " career" and I was unable to rest in His divine wisdom. However, something happened between Thanksgiving and Christmas that year that turned my thinking to His way instead of my way. Once I accepted His will for my life, I truly began to see what a glorious profession this truly is.

It was quite a journey from 6th grade teacher of all core subjects to high school English teacher - but nevertheless, here I am. I have always enjoyed grammar and began this journey by becoming the elementary grammar teacher for another private school. This, in turn, led to becoming the junior high English teacher (somewhat natural progression) to the English 4 - British Literature - teacher (NOT a natural progression and one that, to be quite frank, absolutely terrified me). Most of the literature that I would be teaching in this class I never read before - and I was lucky if I could keep just two steps ahead of the students. I spent hours and hours reading and researching each of the unit studies. It was only after we made it through the first semester - and Shakespeare's Macbeth - that I began to relax just a little. Then, in January of that year, I had the idea - what I truly believe was Divine Inspiration - to travel to England and learn first hand about the history and authors that I was trying to teach. Through online research I found an educational travel company that would allow me to travel to England for FREE if I enrolled 6 students on the trip. This seemed too good to be true.

However, nothing is impossible if it is truly God's will - and I enrolled a total of 12 students - which meant that Geoff was also able to go with me for FREE. In addition, I also earned a FREE 3 day trip to Paris (see photo above). Isn't that amazing?! While I had to wait 25 years after graduating college, Geoff and I were both able to achieve our dream of traveling abroad. GOD IS GOOD - and He truly does give your heart's desire if you are willing to be patient and lean on His perfect timing.

While this trip to England enabled me to bring some new found knowledge back to the classroom, I still felt as though I was lacking the true qualifications to teach these students British Literature. I casually researched the possibility of becoming certified, but because my major was in French and not English - I would need to obtain an undergraduate degree in English, as most graduate programs deemed that a prerequisite. In addition, most graduate programs were geared toward the full-time student, and I simply could not give up teaching to pursue this advanced degree. There was one program, however, that truly fit the bill: Middlebury College Bread Loaf School of English. I applied to Middlebury as an undergraduate (they have one of the best foreign language programs in the country) and was waiting listed. This is an excellent school and truly one that I would consider out of my league. The Bread Loaf program is geared toward teachers -- so the classes meet for 6 intensive weeks in the summer - perfect for my schedule. The program does not require the GRE (thank goodness!!) AND there is not thesis (another major plus with a full teaching schedule). In addition, they do not require a undergraduate degree in English - just a desire to learn English literature through intense immersion - and, of course, a writing sample. I was very leery of the writing sample - and yet somehow they deemed it worthy enough for acceptance into the program.

Of course, masters programs are not free - and this one is certainly not cheap. I had no idea how we were going to pay for it, but I knew that I had followed the Lord's leading this far, and I would continue to follow Him until the door was completely closed. I mentioned this opportunity to my mom who was thrilled that I was pursuing this course. She immediately volunteered to pay for the program: tuition, room, board, books and travel expenses. I NEVER expected this response and am still somewhat in shock that all has truly come together so quickly - and easily. God is Amazing!!

So, here I am -- 4 days away from leaving for my first Bread Loaf summer. Nerves are frayed - anxiety is high - but knowledge that God is in complete control of the situation is reassuring.

1 comment:

Megan said...

I'm glad you're going to be keeping a blog. It'll be nice to know how your studies are going, and it won't make it seem like you're that far away. I know you're going to do great -- you always do! I'm going to miss you, but we still have 4 days!!