Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Whirlwind Week

Everybody is going to face adversity in life on a regular basis.  What makes you as a person is how you react to said adversity.  If given a turd sandwich, are you going to throw it away and go hungry, or are you going to toast the bread, slather on some mustard and make it the best sandwich that you can out of what you are given?  This week, I was tested with a great deal of adversity, a situation that I would have sulked about or one where I could have made the best of out it.  I chose the latter...

A while back, I applied for a position with the Clark County School District as a digital learning coach, working with teachers at several schools integrating technology into their curriculum.  The position was to start in August, allowing me to finish out the school year at my current school.  Since I accepted the position in the beginning of April, I have cleaned out my classroom, donating almost all of my materials that I deemed that would not need anymore, including my beautiful monstrosity of a podium that I have decorated over the past ten years.

As the school year is winding down, I have started to prepare for my new job.  I have signed up to attend and present at several conferences this summer.  I got a new iPad Mini 4 with a 128 GB hard drive to download every app that I could potentially think of to familiarize myself with anything that a teacher could throw my way.  However, that was all to change on Tuesday, May 31st.

I received an email around 10:30 on Tuesday morning stating that I had to attend a mandatory meeting regarding my job at 2:30.  The email did not give any indication of what the meeting would be about.  In my mind, I was under the impression that I would be finding out what schools I would be assigned to and getting my Macbook that was assigned to me for the job.  However, when the meeting started, it quickly turned from excitement to disbelief, as we were notified, current and new coaches, that our jobs had been eliminated due to a lack of funding.  A representative from the HR department was at the meeting to tell us about the next step.  We were to look at the list of openings in the district (which wasn't a problem, CCSD has over 800 openings, so if you are looking for a job and are interested in moving to Las Vegas, check out and select our top three choices from the list.  HR would then do their best to place people in one of their choices.

I was a mess on the inside.  I was sick to my stomach not knowing where I was going to be.  This is an insanely first world problem, and even beyond that because there are teachers everywhere that get pink slipped every year, so the last thing that I want to do is come across as a privileged little whiner.  I am grateful that I was still going to have a job, but was extremely disappointed that I lost the job that I wanted so badly, gave away all of my classroom materials, and had no idea where I was going to end up.

Fast forward to Wednesday morning.  I had narrowed down my choices to three high school social studies positions and was starting to play the whole "hurry up and wait" game.  I get a text message from my good friend Lucas Leavitt (@LucasLeavitt on Twitter) telling me to talk to him before I commit to any position.  I call him right away to see what he is talking about.  He proceeds to tell me that he is in the office of a principal that has a dilemma in regards to a position that is open at his school.  For the past year, his school had a technology coordinator that performed essentially the same duties as a digital learning coach.  The difference was that the position was expected to collaborate extensively with the administrative team and to coordinate professional development on a much higher level than what was possible for a digital learning coach.  Lucas put this principal on the line to talk to me more about the position.  After a five minute conversation, we set up a meeting to speak further later in the day.

I drove out to the school after I finished up with final exams.  I met with the principal for about 30 minutes, discussing the position, our educational philosophies and expectations, and the things that we would do together if we could make this happen.  Because the placement process was something brand new that had been created the day before, we didn't know the next step.  He thanked me for coming and told me to keep in touch, telling me that as soon as he knew more that he would pass it along to me.  I didn't have to wait long; 20 minutes later, as I was sitting down to a lunch of kalua pig and cabbage (if you're ever in North Las Vegas, hit up 808 Hawaii Mixed Plate, you will not be disappointed!), I get a text from the principal telling me to download a district transfer form, fill it out, sign it, and email it back to him and HR.  A few hours later after I had submitted the form, I got confirmation from HR that I would be working as the learning strategist/technology coordinator at Shadow Ridge High School.

In less than 24 hours, I went from having an amazing job starting in August, to not having that job and not knowing where I was going to be, to having a job that I think is going to be even better than what I had anticipated before!  I cannot thank Lucas enough for bringing my attention to the job.  To say that I am excited is an understatement.  But at the same time, today is also a sad day.  After six years of working at East Career & Technical Academy, I will be walking out the door for the last time as a teacher at this school.  I have made so many friends and became such a better educator at this school.  I am going to miss the staff, the students, the neighborhood, all of it.  It has been a huge part of my life and while today is the last day, it hasn't quite hit me.  I'm sure it will about the first week of August or so.

I may be sporadic in my musings over the next few weeks.  My wife and I bought a pop-up camper and will be taking our two little ones out on the road across this great nation for the next six weeks.  I cannot wait for them to see all of what our nation has to offer and to see where their mommy and daddy grew up in Michigan.

Until next time...

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