Thursday, April 26, 2007

Someone That Amazes Me

I am so proud and impressed with my wife. This week was the county teacher of the year banquet and my wife was nominated by her school as new teacher of the year, this is a nice recognition, but this it is not what impresses me. It is the wild and non-conventional route that she took to reach this point.

A year ago my wife was employed as a service area representative for the Girl Scouts, which meant the she coordinated and ran all the girl scouting programs in a two county area. She
had finally got a job she enjoyed after working a menial sales job after graduating with he degree in psychology. In the six plus years that I had know her she had never seriously talked about pursing teaching as a career.

This all changed very suddenly when last June she was suddenly laid off due to a reorganization that lead to the elimination of her position. Professional employment opportunities are limited in our some what isolated town. There is however a demand for teachers. She enjoyed working with kids during her time with the girl scouts so she decided to investigate what it would take to become a teacher.

The day after she found out that she was to be laid off she was a middle school in little border town south of here running a girl scout event and she decided to ask the vice-principal what it would take for her to become a teacher. His response to this was to pretty much hand her a job application right there. Apparently that particular district was having such a hard time hiring teachers that were being allowed by the hire teacher under an emergency certification program. Which basically means that could and would hire anyone with a bachelor’s degree and a pulse. She applied and was hired on as a seventh grade science teacher. The school year started and she was promptly thrown to the wolves.

One would think as a new teacher with no educational experience that my wife’s new school would provide her a lot of support as she made the transition in to her new career. This however would not turn out to be the case. After a fairly standard new employee orientation, she was handed two text books, told her that one of the was the one she was supposed to use, and that as for a curriculum she could find the state standards on the web and that she should try to teach to that. Adding to the challenge she faced is the nature of the school and its students. The school is located a few hundred yards from the Mexican border, in a town that is primarily composed of farm laborers. Only about 5% of the students speak English at home, many don't speak English at all. Because they have spent so much time learning English the 7th grade science class is the first time in their academic careers that they encounter Science. Needless to say this added greatly to the degree of difficulty of what she was attempting to do.

Further complicating things is an ongoing conflict between the Principal and the Vice-principal. Both men apparently loath each other and do what ever they can to undercut each other, creating a poisonous atmosphere. There are multitudes of other problems, but that would just be depressing to list and would not speak to the point I am trying to make.

Despite all hardships she has faced she has been most successful. The kids absolutely adore her; they want to hang out in her class room both before and after school. One of her more artistically gifted students her has turned her into a cartoon characters and has written several comics featuring her.

Even in her perceived failure she has met with success. The best example of this is the unit she attempted to do on Mars. NASA offers to let students to select a spot on Mars and use a satellite to take a picture of it. his is really a neat thing and she decided to do a unit around it. Unfortunately many have her students were not interested in doing it, so she was forced to cancel the unit half way through in favor of text book work. However a sizable group were fired up enough about it come in after school to complete the Mars project. She views the whole incident as great failure. I completely disagree the fact that she had so many students so fired about it that were willing to volunteer to come in after school to complete it, speaks volumes about her natural teaching ability. I can not think any school work where I would have volunteered to come to do after school.

Making this all more impressive to me is that while launching headlong into a career that her education and experience had prepared for she was embarking on getting her masters degree in education so that she can become fully credential as a teacher. Getting my own masters was a very difficult task, how she is able to manage it while doing something as tough as she is doing impresses the hell out of me. I married a truly amazing person. Best thing I ever did.


O'Donovan said...

What a marvelous tribute! I can tell that you are both very lucky and happy in your marriage (and still work very hard to show how much you appreciate your luck).

Meg said...

What she said, and it's fabulous to see someone who's worked so hard through such challenging and unusual circumstances as your wife get well-deserved recognition formally.