A Family Affair

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The other day I was mulling over the concept of where I am supposed to be. Physically. Emotionally. Psychologically. Being sick for the past few weeks has given me plenty of downtime to stew a little. Sometimes I can be my worst enemy.

But in this case, I realized that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Right now.

When I walked into the old Thomas Jefferson Middle School building last October, I had never heard of the Family School. Like so many other times, I accepted a substitute teaching position, but this one was as an elementary physical education teacher.

In high school, I dreamed of teaching elementary school. I went to school to become a physical education teacher. But back then in the “good old days” a torn ACL and MCL was the end of the road for not only my being an athlete, but for being a pe teacher. Can’t do it, can’t teach it. That was Ithaca College’s philosophy as was Northeastern University.

I settled on being an English teacher. But who really wants to go to English class? How many people really want to read and read things that they may not want to read like Dracula  or War of the Worlds?  and write? So many people hate to write.

But who doesn’t like to play? So, after spending my first ten years as a teacher, five at a very strict and structured military-style school, landing in an alternative family-oriented elementary school gave me a new lease on life.

This was the job that I really, really wanted. I applied. I held my breathe in anticipation. I felt despair when I didn’t even land an interview. But I had been doing the job for weeks. Unfortunately, with the No Child Left Behind laws, since I don’t have a physical education endorsement, I wasn’t qualified to teach pe. Didn’t matter that I’ve been an athlete in a wide range of sports for over forty years. Didn’t matter that I am a highly qualified elementary teacher, though just grades three through five. I’d have to go back to school for the fourth time to pick up grades K-2. Six hundred dollars and up for a Graduate credit has a way of stopping me from doing that. It didn’t matter that I do have a K-12 Reading Specialist endorsement, my newest addition to my HQ status.

Turns out, no one else who applied for the position had the endorsement either. They’ve re-posted the job. So, I’ve continued to work with the kids. Even though I’ve been been teaching at the Family School, I have only spent fourteen days with these kiddos. But I have fallen in love with them, especially the ones with quarks and spectrum issues. I see their faces in my thoughts as I ponder what went wrong and what went well.

I know I’ll be back next Tuesday and Wednesday, the Beginning of December, but the rest of the future is unknown. All I can do is to focus on being where I’m supposed to be even if it means it’s not permanent and enjoy the moments.

I’d be lying if I say I won’t be sad or not shed a tear or two when I leave, but I’m hoping the memories of the smiles and hugs and even tears will support my next chapter.




  1. Happy Thanksgiving Susan. I wish you much luck with the job! I can see that it’s your dream job and sometimes that’s enough to make a very successful employment. Having your heart in a job is probably 75% of the battle. Keep the chin up, a positive outlook, and things will happen.

    Quack-quack. (smile)

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