Coming Out of eXile

Last year, in June 2018, I was let go from a position I was extremely committed to. I had built many strong relationships with my students and colleagues, and after 3 years, I had been instrumental in stabilizing and moving forward a floundering program at my school. I was very vested in what I was doing. When I was let go, I felt as if I had been ejected, banished, sent away.

Exiled.

Obviously, I was pushed out of my school–I didn’t do anything egregious or incompetent–but thanks to shrinking student numbers and district finances impacting schools like mine, I no longer made the cut. Someone at my school with tenure and full support of the principal could do my job–and so all that needed to be done was to get rid of me. Which they did.

I became an expatriate of a program in which I had added value. I had been instrumental in stabilizing a startup program that few believed in–and put in a lot of effort to graduate two classes of students who are now excelling in all kinds of positive directions.

The problem was that not only was I out of a position that had been extremely important to my world, but I also didn’t find another convenient opportunity to just slide in to–or another teaching position within my school district, for that matter. And with my husband’s work situation last spring/summer, I didn’t have the luxury to wait around for a perfectly tailored fit of a position. Instead, thanks to the suggestion of a former teaching colleague, I found refuge and a harbor at a year-round alternative charter school.

I found the program to be an excellent opportunity for students who have veered off the traditional high school path to complete their high school diploma before they age out at 22. My favorite parts of the program were the students themselves who I advised and coached through their independent studies and that these same students can complete their high school requirements throughout the school year, not just at the end of a traditional high school semester. It was so fun to see students complete their requirements at what felt like odd times. The challenge is that this national charter school chain wasn’t originally set up for most traditional educators to stay for long and so while it gave someone like me a comfortable harbor, it wasn’t meant to keep me there for the rest of my career.

And so while I was busy working and rowing this summer, I found that I had worked through my forced displacement enough that I was ready to leave my safe harbor and so I started to look for a new high school social studies teaching position in a traditional setting. The cool thing was that there were more opportunities in my old district this year for my background and there was more interest in my skill set. There was plenty of stress and drama in the whole searching process, but I interviewed at 2 of Illinois’ top schools, as well as other high schools in the district, and I locked in a new position!

I am teaching Civics at a high school close to our condo and I am thrilled. Teachers returned a week ago and oddly enough, my first day felt like a homecoming. I felt as if I belonged, that I wasn’t an outsider. Since this school was re-opened 3 years ago, no one has been there longer than those 3 years which gives a really unique playing field. Loyalties and friendships aren’t thoroughly entrenched and I’m not the only one who has taught in multiple (read: numerous) schools. I have a cool classroom with a wall of widows looking out over a beautiful view courtyard and 2 of my other walls are magnetic, which has eliminated my traditional struggle to secure posters to my walls. Very fun.

I no longer feel as if I am in exile. I feel as if I took care of tending my battered sails and boat this past year in this unique little harbor and now I am setting sail again on new adventures and in new directions. I feel as if I have returned to my ‘known’ again.

Looking forward to my first day of classes tomorrow! But I do still have a case of nerves… 🙂

One more thing:

Happy Birthday, Dad!!!! Love you bunches!!!!

 

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “Coming Out of eXile

  1. I love that picture of you, sis, and dad!!! Classic ‘70s pic!!!! And of course big congrats on the new civics teaching position! The new school and situation sound like a fantastic move and a true homecoming! Yep, I still have crazy dreams etc before the first day of school! Buena suerte!

  2. Pingback: Weekly Round-Up | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

  3. Hi Barbara – this is the first time I’ve visited your blog. I wanted to add my Congratulations for taking a chance on the year-round school, and for finding what sounds like an ideal placement now. And I love your definition of EMWA 🙂

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