Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Southern Girl in a Northern World

Southern Girl in a Yankee World

        I grew up in the deep south. I was blessed with air conditioning and for mild winters. I have never in my life shoveled snow or really dressed for winter. I had never had a white Christmas or for that fact even really watched the seasons change until I met my future husband.

        I always knew I wanted to be a teacher; however in 2005 my world changed more than I had anticipated. I was in my 2nd year of college when Hurricane Katrina hit my hometown. My world was turned upside down because my family lost everything in our home.  I took a year off from school to become settled back down as temporarily as we could after the storm. I worked many odd jobs in order to buy clothes,a car, and create a life that was somewhat normal, or what I now look back as an illusion of normality after Katrina.

        I decided in 2007 that I wanted to finally finish school and become a teacher. I always had people who said that I would never be able to be a teacher because I am to HYPER! Well they are right I can be hyper, but it only makes my job more enjoyable. It took me awhile to finish my degree. I had to retake a few classes because I will sadly say I did not take school seriously my first year. (Whoops) I did it. I graduated in 2011 with a degree in Elementary Education.  I did not graduate with honors, highest honors, or anything fancy. I was just a plain graduate that was so proud of what I had accomplished.

        In the summer of 2011 most of my friends found their first teaching job. At that time I had interviewed for 5 jobs and yet to find anything. I will never forget getting a denial letter in the mail and crying. I could never figure out what I was doing wrong and why I was not being hired. I received a phone call from a school I had never applied for to interview, and then received a phone call from the school next door to that school for interview.  I had two interviews in one day an hour apart. Talk about STRESSED OUT!

 Well I was blessed to receive the job at one of those schools. I recall getting a phone call at 6:30 in the morning with a nice lady saying she did not want anyone else getting me.

        Slowly I began to move into my classroom. I organized the best I knew how at the time. My phone began to ring the day I was hired. The schools I had interviewed at in the past were offering me positions. I politely declined and hoped I was making the right decision where I was. I did. I could not have been happier my first year teaching. People were so kind and helpful. It was a year that I will always remember.

        I will always remember this year because in February 2012 my now soon to be husband called me to tell me he finally received the phone call that he was transferring back home in New England in a month. I was super excited because I always joked that I was going to move to New England with my family and friends, but reality had set in. The dream actually came true. I packed a moving truck up a month later and moved everything.

        I did not give my resignation and leave when I got the notice in February. I had 24 kids I was responsible for and I made sure to finish the school year. Boy it was tough giving away a lot of the things I bought for my classroom my first year. You see  I had to fit everything I owned  in a SUV to drive across country to my new home.  A bit of advice do not let your classroom pack your things. I found some interesting assortments of items.

        Once I relocated we bought our first home, added our newest and cutest family member Beau (our Golden Retriever), and began our new lives. I applied and applied for jobs. I watched the bus drive past my house on the first day of school and cried. I did not find a job my first year in New England. I was heartbroken or so I thought.

        I decided I could not sit at home. Granted my fiancé’ has an enormous family that I now know is most of the population of the county we live in. I feel sometimes to keep me entertained  (ok a little exaggerating but still). I decided I would substitute. This became the most humbling job I have ever had. Before I subbed I was and I admit still awful at leaving plans for subs. I never realized how much work people who are guest in our classroom are expected to do at a drop of a hat. It worked in my favor. I was able to show a few people that I was a southern girl who came from absolutely nowhere and knew what I was doing.

        This school year I did not cry as the bus passed. Instead I welcomed 18 smiling faces into my classroom. I have had much laughter and joy this school year. I experienced snow days, dressing 18 kids properly for snow, getting 18 students dressed and undressed during winter. I never realized how much space winter clothes for 18 kids can take up or the amount of time to get ready.  

In November I shared the most exciting news with my students. I told them before even friends that I was getting married. Some said they were good luck because their first grade teacher got engaged too when they had her. I think they are a charm.

        With the year coming to an end I am now packing my classroom again by placing my books, stickers, binders, lessons, and memories in boxes again for the summer. Once again another school year quickly came to an end. I still do not know what grade I shall be in for the upcoming year, but that is ok. I know God has in his mind where I am supposed to be. Growing up in the south I learned to go with the flow but living in the north now I know I need to prove myself as well. I think I have balanced that pretty well.

I love what I do. I laugh at the people in my life who doubted that I could be a teacher. I truly know this is who God intended for me to be. All my students may not remember me and that is ok. I always vow to be fair in everything, caring always, and show my students how to love learning and who they are. 

So as I always randomly walk into people’s room and say “SMILE” I hope you smile today.  

Miss Stetson


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