I am writing this piece in response to a prompt on The Red Dress Club.This week we were asked to tell a story of a time when we were proud, without any trivialization or modesty.
Little girls have dreams to be all kinds of things...mine was to be a teacher. The dream drifted here and there, some other ideas poked in, but I always returned to that same dream. When I grow up, I am going to be a teacher.
Then senior year in high school I found myself pregnant and getting married. The dream went to the shelf, and I lived another dream of being mommy. And again... mommy. Again... mommy. And yes, one more time Mommy. When my last little guy was about three I pulled that lost and dusty dream from the shelf and began the plan to make it happen.
It wasn't easy, four little ones at home, part time jobs and married to an addict. But the dream to teach grew, but now I could envision the dream into a reality.
When I finally finished my degree, I prepared the best portfolio I could and headed out for the interview process. Interview after interview, no calls, no job. I put myself on two county lists and began substituting. My confidence grew with all the compliments I received as I walked into unknown classrooms, I would have a job soon.
Finally, a call came...they asked me to come down and sign the papers, I had a job. My smile could not have been brighter, my heart pumping, I floated from the school I was subbing at that day, my little girl dream would come true.
As I walked into the office I could feel the tension of the secretary who knew me well. She said, "There's been a change. I am sorry." When I asked to speak to the principal he would not come out. Questions flew through my mind, my heart was broken, and as I thought of all the other interviews that seemed so positive, my mind was reeling.
The following day I returned to substitute teaching. The principal was surprised to see me. I shared the story with him and he invited me in his office. A few questions revealed the problem. A story too long to tell here, led to my arrest during those years of schooling. Another consequence of being married to an addict. The principal's words to me that day, "you will never be hired. And they will never explain why." Those words wiped out all my plans, all my hard work and left me devastated, my dream drifting away.
I wondered if I should quit. Should I look for another dream to follow? But I didn't, I couldn't. I worked harder. I set out with a vengeance to change that outcome.
And I did. It took about another year, but the same man who said they will never hire you, did hire me.
Three years later I stood in a staff celebration in a place of honor. I was nominated teacher of the year. As he read the words colleagues had wrote about me, I thought of the struggle I had worked through. I thought of the dream of a little girl that I wouldn't let go of. I thought of the teacher I had become through that struggle, and the joy teaching gives me every day. Not only was I a teacher...but I was a good one, and people saw that.
Moments later the pride I felt erupted within me...the announcement was made, I was the teacher of the year.