My first attempt at this blog ended after summarizing various miseries on two hand-written pages. Not even I believe that my MTC experience was that bad. So, I’ve decided to give voice to the good and the bad equally.
- I came straight to Mississippi from Williams’ graduation celebrations. I arrived voiceless but with a car full of stuff.
- I taught 7th grade math in June Summer School with Tabitha(!), Brad, Polay, and Fiel. I still wish I could be as good a teacher as Polay.
- Then I taught Algebra II with Tabitha (!!), Peter, Karl Nastrom, and the Danimal for the July summer session. The Danimal gave me teaching pointers for the entire bus ride from Holly Springs to Oxford.
- Jamie and I lived in Holly Springs. Jamie taught Biology at Potts Camp. She really didn’t like her job and still has a kiddy pool in the back yard.
- I taught Transition to Algebra and Geometry at Holly High for the 2007-2008 school year with Molly and Crystal there, too.
- I taught 8th grade math with Tabitha(!!!), Heather, Karl Mill, and Tomás for 2008 Summer School.
- Kelsey and Michael stayed with me for the summer; Jamie moved out. Courtney and KJ moved in.
- I teach Geometry, Algebra II, and Trigonometry/PreCalculus at Potts Camp High School.
- Next year I will teach 10th grade math and Game Theory at the Park School in Baltimore.
- I got a steady paycheck and accumulated some savings. I think it’s good to start my adult life with a relatively low salary. It’s given me good perspective on how to spend, how to save, and when to splurge. It’s also been a very easy introduction to the adult world because there’s been no salary negotiations or major job-related decisions. My biggest decision is when to take personal days. Pretty cool.
- I gained confidence. I proved to myself that I’m not a quitter, that I have excessive will power, and that I’m (like all of teacher corps) capable of doing wonderful things with little guidance or resources.
- I am comfortable with having and using power. Two years ago I didn’t enjoy leading from the front—I thought it seemed bossy. Now, I’m pretty darn comfortable being in charge. I like being firm and decisive. I also like reading situations for power dynamics—something that never occurred to me before MS. This is a skill that will come to good use.
- I met a guy. He’s very perceptive and very funny. I’m sure he’s thinking about something important right now. He doesn’t write on his blog about me, and I don’t really write on my blog about him. He’s an INFJ; I’m an ENFJ. I knew he was serious about me when he wrote me a letter in December 2007.
- We have a dog. Her name is Gopher, and she’s shedding her winter coat. She wasn’t supposed to stay but she did. She always cheers me up because she’s happy and goofy. We go on walks and watch movies together. She likes Hitchcock and doesn’t like strangers. I love her a lot!!
- I learned some about southern culture. I’ve been going to my church’s women’s group. I enjoy that they call me “chickadee.” I’ve learned a lot about the politics of this group and observed quite a bit of fashion and social norms. For example: sweatpants + makeup = okay; anything – makeup = you must not be from here. Also I’ve learned about entertaining, “You may only stack plates if you know better” haha, and have at least two glasses of wine before discussing anything. And we only do devotionals when the priest is present. Shh, don’t tell.
- Related to that, I’ve learned how to cook a little bit southern. I’ve had to make a few recipes for my church from their cookbook. I feel closer to the community when I do that—make and eat food the ECW women have been making for years. My church cookbook will be a very dear reminder of my time here, and luckily anything with enough sour cream, mayonnaise, and/or cream cheese is bound to be good.
- I saw much of Mississippi. Last year I spent quite a few weekends in the delta. This year I’ve taken some roadtrips to Jackson, Hattiesburg, Biloxi, Belzoni again, and just around. Mississippi is so beautiful. Even fields of junk are attractive. I haven’t taken as many pictures as I should have, but I’m trying to make up for that now.
- I learned to calm down. I like the pace here. My Potts Camp students don’t really get worked up about anything, and I like that. I’m a much more relaxed person than I was two years ago, if you can believe that. I only really notice it when I go home or have visitors from home, though. There’s always something to rush to back in Philly. I like living more calmly here.
- I started learning how to clean. It sounds terrible, I know, but we never really cleaned our house growing up. Not that my mom did or a maid did—no one did. Don’t judge. My mom was a single mom holding the family together and didn’t value cleaning as much as other things. I remember that she had a magnet on the fridge like, “The dust will be there tomorrow, but your children will grow up” or something like that. So, well, anyway, now I’m learning!
- I dropped some pant sizes. My extra college lbs came off during the first two months of teaching. They really melted off quickly and then didn’t come back. Yay for that ☺
- I had visitors. My first visitor was William from Williams. He like Holly Springs and then went off to get a Chemistry PhD. Then came Erin, my best friend since 7th grade. She came to school with me at Holly High and monitored my students during a quiz. My favorite Erin moment was when she almost hyperventilated because she was worried she offended BB by giving him the brown crayon. Then came the Panda, my little sister, who thought MS was boring but had a boy to think about, anyway, and Jenzee, a “bff” from college who taught my Algebra II students about sewage treatment and Flushability, andTina, my older sister, who mentioned that GSK is working on putting breast tissue in earthworms and my students still ask about “those worms with boobs.” Next came Laura, the other “bff” from college, to see some sights. Soon to come are Thomas (welcome to the program!!) and my Mom and StepDad!!! And Karl’s parents have come three times. “Darlene!”
- I made some friends. I’ve written before about the high regard I have for the entire ‘07 MTC class, and I still mean it. I think you all are a great group of people and I have a lot of respect for everyone. We’ve got such a range of talents paired with deep love for others. It’s really neat.
- I started walking for exercise. Holly Springs is beautiful; I catch up on phone calls and me-time during my walks.
- I learned what healthy foods I’ll eat and what will go bad in my fridge. Just trial and error over the months. Oranges will disappear but bananas will rot.
- Students make me laugh. All the time!! I think my favorite moments have been, “Why do you want it—you’ll just draw a toilet!” “Twelve!” JH jumping into my closet. MM’s hair. TJ’s walk. LP’s walk. SS’s loud voice. RL’s haircut. KS’s comebacks. CR’s antics. Students always like laughing with the teacher, too. It’s fun.
- I know a lot of people and get hugs from students at Walmart! I like hugs.
- I was able to do a few identifiable good things. I helped a girl get into a math summer program and am working with a few others now. I helped another student get a stand-up comedy gig, but I’m not sure if he’ll follow through with it. Various students who don’t really fit in anywhere come to my room to relax and feel accepted. Some shy girls have needed advice every now and then. Students who wanted to learn math did. Students who were allowed to sleep through class before my class finally learned something. I got my PreCal students caught up with their (missing) Algebra II, Trig, and PreCal—they’re ready for Calculus!
Well, okay, I’m over my word limit and writing about these things in depth will affect my good mood. The details are straightforward anyway.
- I stopped reading my Bible and practicing spiritual disciplines. I don’t have a spiritual community.
- I worked too much the first year.
- I am tired almost every day.
- I was reeeeeeeaaallly stressed at Holly High. My face broke out bad, and I stopped sleeping towards the end.
- Sometimes I was/am lonely. I miss having a network of close friends who live nearby.
- I lost perspective on the world and my role in it. The world is bigger than my classroom, and my duty (as a Christian) entails more than schoolwork.
- My house got robbed.
- I didn’t keep in touch with as many people as I would’ve liked to.
- I had to leave Holly High. I’m sorry I had to leave even though I understand why I did.
- I didn’t make the most of my year at Potts Camp. Those students are so well behaved and respectful. It took me too long to trust them enough to do interesting projects. I could’ve had a much more fun and creative year if I recognized their potential 6 months ago.