Friday, September 19, 2014

Better Than Winning the Lottery

After spending three years in Seoul, Korea teaching English as a Second Language, I came back to the States knowing that I wanted to go graduate school to obtain a Masters degree in Education.  I expected to go to school for two years, get my degree, and be on my merry way with a teaching job.  Looking back, I think it was a combination of bad luck and unrealistic expectations, but things didn't turn out quite as I planned.

Here's a little timeline outlining my experiences:

January 2009: Arrived back in the United States.

February 2009: Met with an advisor at Ohio State and explained that I was hoping to get into the Masters program there since it was ranked as one of the top five in the nation, there was a satellite campus close to where my parents' lived, I did my undergraduate degree at OSU, etc.  I explained to her that I had been overseas teaching in Korea and that's what led me to want to pursue an education degree.  The advisor looked at my transcripts and figured out what classes I would need to take.  She told me that I could sign up for classes in March when Spring Quarter started.  Her last question to me was, "Have you been living in Ohio for the past year?"  Um, lady...were you daydreaming when we just had an entire convo about me working in Korea for several years?  I had to say no.  She informed me that I had to call OSU's main campus to see if I would qualify as an Ohio resident.  It turns out, I did not.  I tried to fight it saying that I had to be an Ohio resident because if I wasn't an Ohio resident, then where was I a resident of?  Korea? Don't think so!  My argument didn't work and the lady I spoke with put me on hold for a long time and then came back and told me, "You are an Ohio resident, but not for tuition purposes." That meant that I either had to wait a year to establish residency in Ohio or pay the fee for out-of-state tuition.  When I looked at the out-of-state fees, they were about triple the amount of what Ohio residents had to pay per quarter.  I decided to look into going to private universities since some private colleges don't have extra fees for non-residents.  The advisor at OSU told me that I'd have to do a year of prerequisite courses and then one year and one quarter of graduate school and I'd be done.  That didn't seem too bad for someone who had never had an education class.  A reason why it was such a short time period was because, like I said already, I did my undergraduate degree at OSU, so I didn't have to worry about courses not transferring.  Unfortunately, when I did look into private colleges, a lot of my coursework didn't transfer over, so I was looking at three years to just get my teaching license and no Masters.  In the end, I just decided that I would wait it out and attend school at OSU again.

April 2009-May 2010: Started working as a toddler teacher in a daycare and waited a whole year to establish my Ohio residency.  I had to fill out tons of paperwork and provide all sorts of "proof" like the a copy of the title to my car, pay stubs, rent receipts, etc.  After a year of waiting, I was granted Ohio residency for tuition purposes and signed up to take classes for Summer Quarter.  My main beef with the whole having to wait a full year for tuition purposes was that I found out that they did away with it shortly after I qualified for in-state tuition.  That was a frustrating piece of news!  Now as long as you graduate from an Ohio high school (which I did), you are considered a "Forever Buckeye" and qualify for the in-state tuition.

June 2010-June 2011: Completed all of my prerequisite courses in a year.  I had to take 2 extra courses on top of the three that every other college senior was taking, but I did it!  Also, during this time, I had to take the GRE and apply to the M.Ed program at OSU.  I got accepted and then had a summer off to work, save some money, and enjoy being Maid of Honor in both of my younger sisters' weddings.

September 2011-June 2013: I took courses full time at OSU for my M.Ed and completed over 1,000 hours in the field.  (It was a rigorous program, but I had some good field experiences.)  Now, September 2011-June 2013 is definitely not the "one year and one quarter" I was promised, but what happened was that the state of Ohio made all universities switch over to semesters.  Because of the mandatory switch, my cohort and I ended up having to go several extra months and our graduation was pushed back til June.

June 2013: Well, even though we were told we could graduate in June, it turns out my friend Scott and I had to delay our graduation because of our study abroad trip to South Africa.  We had already put a deposit on our trip and were told that our graduation date would not be affected, but then later were informed that we could only get the credit hours for our study abroad trip at no extra cost if we postponed our graduation until August.  If we wanted to graduate in June, we would have had to pay over a thousand dollars in tuition for the credit hours for our trip.  We were both a little upset over this, but decided that getting to go to South Africa and not paying the extra money was worth delaying our graduation for just a few months.

August 2013: I went to my graduation ceremony at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus and was so happy to finally be done and walk out of there with my degree!  What I thought was going to take me two years and one quarter turned out to be a commitment that lasted over three years, but I didn't even care because I had earned my degree... Except that when I opened up my diploma case, there was no diploma at all!  Instead, there was a note saying that there was a freeze on my account because I didn't pay a fee.  I knew that I had paid everything, so I was flipping out.  It turns out that I was awarded $1,000 in grant money for my South Africa trip, but then it was taken away for some unknown reason.  Since the grant was taken back, it left me owing $1,000.  I called the financial aid office on the main campus and they just told me to pay it, but I refused...I was told I would get the grant, was awarded it...and, after all, how can you "ungrant" a grant??  I called Scott and asked him if this had happened to him since we were in the same program, took all the same classes, went on the same trip, and had the same graduation day.  He told me that he got his diploma with no problem at all and teased me saying, "Bad Luck Lisa strikes again!"  Lol, he told me he is convinced I'm jinxed, but I insist that while I do have crazy stupid bad luck, I also have amazingly good luck, too.  It never seems to just be neutral.  Anyhow, after making a zillion phone calls and e-mailing several advisors, I finally got my diploma at the very end of August.  However, since I didn't know what was going on with my degree, I had to stop applying to teaching jobs because the admin or secretaries would ask me when I would be get my degree, and I couldn't tell them an answer.  Honestly, in mid-August there really weren't that many jobs to apply to in my area, anyway.  I decided that I was okay subbing for a year to get my foot in the door, and I could also apply to any jobs that opened up in the middle of the year.  The school that I did my student teaching at was looking for subs, and I was hoping that a position would eventually open up.

August 2013-May 2014: I subbed in two districts and even subbed long-term for a teacher that was out for three weeks in May.  While I loved one of the districts and would have applied there in a heartbeat, there was only one job opening for third grade.  Instead of hiring a new teacher, they moved the kindergarten teacher to 3rd grade.  I get that.  It makes total sense, but I knew I was unwilling to wait years for a job to open up.  In Ohio, there is a surplus of teachers and it's hard to find a job especially in the area that I lived in.  Some of the teachers at the school I subbed at told me that they subbed for eight years before getting their job!  Also, as I mentioned on here last spring, a local district mismanaged their funds and ended up having to lay off over a hundred staff members and closed a couple of their schools.  That resulted in even more teachers looking for work in a pool that was already too large for my liking!  A nearby school held interviews for one job and over 200 teachers applied.  Two hundred!  Most of my friends did get teaching jobs in Ohio work for private schools, but I want to work in public education.  At that point, I knew I had move to where there were a decent amount of openings.  Plus, I had been wanting to relocate down South for awhile.  Those numbers gave me the push I needed to take a chance.

June 2014: I moved to a small city near Savannah and applied to almost twenty teaching jobs in South Carolina and waited.  Much to my dismay, I learned that I could not apply to teach in the Georgia school district closest to me because I do not have my reading endorsement.  That is a whole other can of worms I don't really feel like getting into that much, but basically, some states passed laws that all teachers (current and future) must hold a reading endorsement in order to teach in early childhood.  I heard nothing about this endorsement being a requirement for teachers in certain states until my last semester of college.  To get the endorsement at OSU, the cost is about $10,000 and anyone not enrolled in a degree program (which I wouldn't be since I already graduated) would not be eligible for student loans to help pay for the endorsement.  As a semi-recent graduate, I don't have $10,000 to just throw at a reading endorsement, so I am ineligible to teach in the Georgia school near me.  That's why I applied to be a substitute teacher and not a regular classroom teacher here in Georgia. 
July and August 2014: I kept calling to check on my application for subbing.  I was informed that I could sub every single day if I wanted to and was led to believe that there would always be jobs available.  Unfortunately, I wasn't hearing back from the subbing place as fast as I would have liked to/wasn't even sure what was going on, as I wrote about in a past post.

September 2014: After an interview, two training sessions, a background check, a drug test, and another visit to fill out paperwork, I was finally hired as a sub!  The only problem was that when I logged on the site to book jobs, there was nothing available.  I saw a single job posting and it was for a half-day in a special education room.  I went to Google the school to see if it was close to me, and by the time I finished my Google search, someone else had already taken the job!  When I subbed last year, I did take some same-day jobs, but most of the time I was able to book them way in advance.  I started freaking out thinking that maybe I would have to move back to Ohio where I knew I could sub practically every day of the week, if not every single one.  And...That's when I got the call...for...a pre-screening interview at a South Carolina school district!  That led to me getting a phone call for an interview directly with the school principal!   And NOT just for subbing--for an actual teaching job!! I was beginning to think open teaching positions were just myths, lol.  As soon as I walked into the school yesterday, I just got a good vibe.  The secretary was friendly, smiled at me, told me it was nice to meet me and asked if I found the place okay.  The lobby of the school was inviting and clean.  There were rocking chairs, pamphlets for parents, a little table with paper and crayons for kids.  The room was nice and bright, there was mosaic artwork hanging on the walls, and there were even plants.  You can tell a lot about a school from the atmosphere, as soon as I walked in, I got the sense that this was a school run by people who cared.  I don't typically like interviews because I got unbelievably nervous, but the principal and assistant principal just had a calm demeanor about them.  About halfway through the interview I realized that I was actually ENJOYING myself answering those questions.  I had a chance to ask questions to the principal and assistant principal I agreed with their philosophies.  I could tell that they were hands-on and made their presence known throughout the school, but felt like they were there to actually help and support the teachers.
Once I heard more about the job itself, I was even more convinced that it was the one for me.  The opening was for a first grade position.  First/K are my desired grade levels, so that was already a plus.  Then I found out that the room is a Mandarin immersion room and I would be co-teaching with a Chinese teacher because the students in the class are in a language immersion program.  Although I won't be the one instructing students in another language, I believe in immersion programs and in the importance of learning a second language early on.  I studied French at a French immersion school,  and I when I taught in Korea, it was English immersion.  I have worked with foreign teachers in the past and even team-taught with some Korean teachers, so I'm really looking forward to working with the Chinese teacher.  I couldn't have imagined a better fit for myself if I tried.  After the official interview, I was given a tour of the school and was allowed to step into the classroom for a bit.  I drove home thinking, "I really hope that I got this..."  I finished my drive home and noticed that I had a voice mail.  I thought it was my sister calling to see how my interview had gone, but I saw that it was from the school!!  I played the message and on it was the most glorious thing I've ever heard in life which was the sound of the principal offering me the job!!!  I played that message to myself over and over because I FINALLY got what I wanted.  To say I am excited would be underestimating things.  I am beyond ecstatic!  When the assistant principal and I got to talk, she told me, "We both felt that you would be an excellent fit for our school.  We should have just hired you on the spot."  I told her that I felt like the school was a good fit for me as well, especially that position because it combines my love for international studies (my first degree) and teaching!  I hope to create themed units on China so that students can learn more about the country.  I have been walking around with a huge grin on my face and feel that a huge burden has been lifted.

I told you my back-story, so you can see that finally securing a teaching job isn't something I take lightly.  I realize now that I was spoiled rotten to get a good teaching job in Korea with just an undergraduate degree not even in the field of education.  The journey to getting my own classroom the the States took longer than I would have liked, but now that I have my very own students, I'm going to be working my tail off trying to make sure my students receive a high-quality education!  I just feel like I need to pinch myself because I have been wanting to get my own classroom for more than five years, and even though there have been obstacles, I couldn't imagine a better ending to my story.  I'm happier now than I think I would be if I won the lottery.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesday Confessions

I haven't had a good confession session in awhile, so here goes nothing!

* If the house phone rings, I never answer it.  I haven't given one person the house #, and since I know it's not for me, I just don't bother with it.

* I'm not really sure where all of my clothes are... I thought I packed all my good ones in my big suitcase when I moved, but I'm still missing items that I thought I brought but I guess they're back in Ohio.  It kind of sucks when you have the perfect shirt to wear with a certain pair of pants only to realize you don't have the shirt with you.

* Our neighbors that rented the other side of our duplex are moving out, and I'm not too sad about it.  They were nice to my face, but Ev's mom and Jared both said that they made comments about my car.  Like when I first moved in one of them texted Jared saying that there were too many cars and we had to change the way we parked now because of my extra car.  Really?  If you knew our parking situation, you would laugh because the way it's done around here is you just pull in through the front yard and park in the backyard.  There isn't an actual driveway, so the whole backyard wasn't big enough to fit my car?  Please.  We never did change the way we parked--she said we should start parking nose in.

* I was warned by many that down South there were way more bugs.  Duh.  I guess my main concern was always roaches.  Before I agreed to move into this apartment, I grilled Ev about if he had ever seen a roach/how many/how common was it/what was the possibility one could get into our house, etc. Satisfied with all of his answers, I moved in... Well, about a week and a half ago I just happened to be awake and a HUGE cockroach crawled under my door!  The worst part was that both of my roommates were sleeping, so I had to deal with it myself then and there.  There was no way I was going to let that bugger escape because then I'd never be able to sleep with it lurking around.  I took care of it, but...gross... I told Ev about it and he laughed saying that cockroaches are a common problem in the South and that it must have gotten in from the outside when the door was open.  I asked if it had anything to do with dishes not being washed instantly every single time, even though we try our best to stay on top of it.  Ev assured me that a cockroach that big wasn't an issue of how dirty/clean we are and explained that the little ones are more commonly associated with filth.  He said that if we started to see a lot of little ones around food then we should start to worry but that a lone big cockroach just got in like how any other common insect might have.  I've dealt with roaches in my accommodation when traveling to other countries, but in Ohio I've never, ever seen a roach in any place I've ever lived in or in any of my friends' places.  It was not my favorite experience to have one in our home, and this better not become a regular occurrence.  It does make me feel better that the exterminator regularly checks our place and that he was just here and said that there were no problems.

* Last year my sis bought me some Philosophy Pumpkin Pie bath gel and gave it to me for Christmas.  I have seriously been waiting all year to use it because I wanted to wait and use it in the fall.  Time to finally break it out, yay!

* I had a nightmare about Pennsatucky from Orange is the New Black.  I thought maybe it was the teeth, but SPOILER ... as you know she gets her teeth fixed, but she's still pretty terrifying, hahaha.

* A friend of mine ordered me a new subscription box called FrenchBox.  You get beauty, fashion, or lifestyle items from France in every box.  I can't wait for it to come!

* I think (hope) I am a pretty good speller and that hasn't been an issue for me, but for some reason I am terrible at knowing whether or not something is one word or two.  Is it linkup or link up?  Is it nevermind or never mind?  Website or web site?  Don't trust me at all when compound words are concerned, because they trick me.

* The other day I was eating some Kix and a couple spilled out of my bowl.  Is it bad that I didn't even bother to pick them up because Claude was right next to me and I knew he would just go over and eat them?  (Again, this proves how we have almost no crumbs on our floor for the little cockroaches to be attracted to.)

* I walked over to the local Goodwill donation trailer to drop off some clothes I don't wear anymore.  They were all in good condition, but no longer fit me well.  When I saw the guy that was working, I smiled and said, "Hello."  He didn't say a word and snatched the bag out of my hand instead of just taking it and still didn't say anything, so I walked away feeling awkward.  It really rubbed me the wrong way, and next time I'm going to drive and donate directly at the store.

* I buy a lot of my pants from Alloy because they are one of the few places that has very long inseams.  I just noticed that recently they started charging an extra $2 for pants with longer inseams which was always free before.  I guess I get it because extra fabric is required, but I still don't approve, lol.

* Last week I went on a pre-screening interview for a regular teaching job.  More details on this coming in tomorrow's post. :D

**Linking up with Kathy today for Humpday Confessions**

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Link Love + BFC Mug Swap Reveal

I've never done a Link Love post, but decided to go ahead and finally do one.  Why not?  :)  
Also, listing out my links for y'all means I can go head and link up with Erica for Listed Tuesday today!  
  • The United Sweets of America-  I came across this article a few days ago and oh my!  If you love desserts like me, it is worth a look because the author picks a dessert to best represent every state.  There is an interactive map that has a picture of the chosen dessert on top of every state and when you click on the picture, an explanation of why she chose that particular dessert pops up.  I thought the author did a good job picking out Buckeyes for Ohio's dessert, so I went on to check out her other picks...because I love state/regional specialties, especially when they're sweet.  This article taught me a little about history and I learned about new types of desserts that I had never heard of before such as kuchen, krumkake, and bizcochito.  Head on over and see if you agree with the dessert she picked for your state!  Apparently several people from Wisconsin and Alabama disagree with her choices.  Either way, it was an interesting read!
  • Confetti Nails- Kallie @ But First, Coffee posted a tutorial on how to create this colorful look.  Honestly, I don't actually do a lot of the nail art tutorials I see because they are too intricate, but this one looks easy enough and the result sure is cute.
  • Wiener Dogs are A-Holes- I started noticing that sometimes Claude acts a little passive aggressive.  One time I wouldn't let him in my room when he was whining, and he tore up a Subway wrapper into pieces and then pooped on the floor after I had just let him out.  I feel like he was almost trying to "punish" me just because I didn't let him into my room right away.  After we went to Ohio to visit for a week, he treated my roommates and I like chopped liver when we came back home.  I thought that he would be excited to see us, but he completely ignored all of us for almost two weeks because I swear he was mad that we left him behind!  (Ev's mom stopped by and took good care of him.)  Claude would seriously walk away when I tried to pet him which he never did before.  He didn't even head-butt my door trying to get into my room which he usually does several times a day.  Thankfully, I guess he has forgiven us and he's back to his loving self.  Anyway, I started Google searching "characteristics of dachshunds" and came across this hilarious post written by Jessie @ My Messie Life.  I laughed so hard while reading it because so much of what was written was true of Claude, too!  Jessie also experienced some of the vindictive dachshund behavior.  At least I know that it's typical of the breed...Sorry, Claude, you're a complete stereotype! 
  • Pumpkin Spice Whip Dip I've been looking at fall recipes to try, because I definitely need my yearly pumpkin spice fix.  I came across this dip recipe, and it looks so good!  The best part is that it's easy to make and the dip requires only four ingredients.  
  • DIY Jewelry Tutorials  This was posted in April, but I just came across it via Pinterest.  It has links to 51 different tutorials!  I found a couple of pieces I'd love to make!

But First, Coffee Mug Swap Reveal

For the BFC Mug Swap, my partner was Ashley @ The Artsy Apple.  Ashley and I had plenty to write about since she is also in the field of education.  I recommend taking a look at her blog if you're a teacher, want some drool-worthy recipes, or are interested in DIY projects.  

Now for the reveal of the mug Ashley got for me...

Isn't it cute??  It's perfect for me, too!  #cupcakeaddict  

Here are 5 posts written by Ashley that I highly suggest you take a look at:

1) A Tour on Tuesday: In this post, Ashley shares her favorite parts of her home.  The last pic is of the mug I got her for the mug swap!

2) Basically #Basic Among Other Things:  I absolutely LOVE guacamole, but the recipe I have requires a lot of ingredients.  This post contains a recipe for guacamole that is super simple!  Plus, there are two other perfect-for-fall recipes.  I won't ruin the surprise, but you probably won't be disappointed. :)

3) Friday Five: My Natural Habitat: This post has pics of some of the CUTEST classroom decorations I've ever seen.  It inspired me!

4) Poppin' Champagne: Ashley shows you how to change an old champagne or wine bottle into a nice decoration for your house.

5) Popping the Question: See how Ashley popped the question to see if her future bridesmaids would be a part of her wedding.

What are some good posts from other bloggers that you've read lately?

Listed Tuesday