I have always been a person who needs to feel that what I do matters. Maybe you can relate. When I was a second grade teacher what I did with my time each day mattered. It was easy to quantify and I didn’t have to give it much thought. The kids in my care relied on me to teach them and be a valuable part of their life. I woke up every day and got that. And to the best of my ability tried to act the part. This job was “easy” for me to do every day. Teachers play a vital role in society. I’m doing my part. Check.
Let me back up.
As a fresh Texas A&M graduate with a degree from their business school, I was ready to KILL IT… whatever IT was! I was young, enthusiastic, passionate, driven by the knowledge I had gained and what the future held. I took a random job that summer in North Dallas. I didn’t really understand the job description or how it “fit” who I was or who I wanted to be, but by gosh they were impressed with my degree so I was impressed with their… whatever! I was trained and trained and trained… as basically a glorified telemarketer. Yes, really. I went to school for four years and learned the ins and outs of sales, promotion, marketing, advertising to call folks at their homes and offices with the sole goal of not getting hung up on! This isn’t what I signed up for. Or was it? Either way this is not what I envisioned for my life. I wanted to make a difference. But how?
Fast forward to September 11, 2001. As I sat in my cubicle, about 4 miles from DFW airport, I watched the news of the World Trade Center attacks unfold. The usually bustling sky above me was eerily quiet. I was alone, afraid and questioning more than ever what on Earth I was doing in a place like this. I stuck it out for a few more weeks. Until the untimely, if somewhat expected, death of my very best friend’s grandfather. These two events slammed the message that “life is short” DEEP into me. I was done. Done with my cubicle, my headset, my hour plus commute. Done.
I walked into my office on a Friday morning, after having spent the week prior slowly gathering up my personal belongings from my space without trying to draw too much attention, and walked out about 15 minutes later feeling happy and free. The only plan was to figure out a plan! I made the rounds to all the local school districts and applied to be a substitute teacher. I mean, how hard could that be, right? (Young and DUMB).
One Jr. High science class and one Bilingual Pre-K class later, I was kinda looking for that cubicle! Then the opportunity came. Two weeks into the sub gig I was offered a permanent position in a local elementary school. The position was funded by a grant and would begin immediately and go through the end of the school year. My job was to build the reading skills of the struggling second graders in the form of small group instruction. I learned more about being a teacher and who I was in those months than I ever thought possible. Those 7 and 8 year olds taught me far more than any textbook or on the job training ever had. I was hooked. I went on to get my teaching certification as I worked with the kids and was offered a second grade classroom of my very own for the next school year. I took it! And kept it. For the next ten years. Those years were some of the best in my life. The friends I made in colleagues, parents, grandparents, even students are like nothing I ever imagined.
Toward the end of those ten years, another miracle happened.
And then about 3 years later, this one.
Before Baby #2 was born, we began devising and tackling a plan for me to step away from the classroom and go to work for our remodeling business. This would free Zack up to spend more time out in the field and working on gaining new business and would free me up for the most important job I will ever have: raising our babies (that aren’t babies at all anymore).
I said goodbye to the school that had become my home on a Friday, took a week to “get it together” and said hello to our baby girl on the following Monday.
What does all of this have to do with where we are now?
Stay tuned for Part 2.