Friday, February 03, 2006

Life (More food later)

So, I've eluded to big changes a coming in my future, and I guess I'm ready to spill all. Those who know me know I've never embraced living in Dallas. It's too big. I wasn't thrilled with the idea of it when I got here in 1999, but the job offer was too good to turn down. My joke initially when people asked what I did for fun was to answer "Leave." And I did that plenty. Lula's oldest DS thought I was part of the family, as I hung out over there enough to probably wear out my welcome--he was 1 when I moved here. I still remember him saying his family unit as: Mommy, daddy, C., and JJ. (I'm JJ). It was cute. I tried to find my own way--I joined the Texas Mountaineers and went rock climbing with a bunch of strangers one weekend, tried to find a church, began volunteering, etc. but never really found my niche. I got used to life here and bought a house. I joined a supper club. I still left town alot. In retrospect, I believe that I was here to be closer to home-Oklahoma-so I could be a bigger part of my nephew Dakota's life. Had I stayed in FL or taken one of the other job offers I had, I wouldn't have had the chance to know him and have my life touched by him in quite the same way. I will forever cherish that.

Over the years after Dakota's death, I became unhappy in my job--something that sounded great when I was 20 wasn't really, my performance suffered, and I was trying to find out exactly what I wanted to do when I grow up. I had thought I would maybe one day teach math, since that is was my undergrad is in and is related to my MS (Statistics). One day, someone asked me about this and I said I was thinking of teaching Special Ed. Wow--I don't know where that came from, but once I spoke it, it sounded good to me! I've done some volunteer work w/ children with exceptional needs and am really drawn to them. This all started with Dakota, who had some special needs himself. I researched, called old friends, observed some classes, and off I went. I began a M. Ed program in June, 2004. I quit my corporate job 3 weeks later. I found a job 5 weeks later, and a week later I was teaching! What a whirlwind!

Wow, I didn't intend to make this a long story, but I guess I did. Sorry to anyone who is still reading; I guess I am just thinking to myself.

I love my job. I love my kids. Recent family events, specifically this one really hit me hard. I spent a lot of the fall/early winter going to OK as often as I could. I asked myself one day why do I live here, where I haven't really ever been crazy about it? It's too big, ugly, I hate traffic, and the thought of growing old here would depress me. So, the seed was planted that maybe I have come full circle and maybe it was time to move back to Oklahoma. That seed sprouted, rooted, and really took hold. It's grown into my future reality. I'm ready to leave this place. I'll finish out the school year, possibly teach summer school, and then head north up I-35 to my home. Teachers in Oklahoma make one of the lowest teacher salaries nationally. I can handle that; I took the big pay cut already. What's another 25%? :) I have faith that it will all work out. My parents are thrilled, and I am alternately terrified and excited. A few trusted people I work with know. I also told my coordinator earlier this week and started crying. She was instrumental in bringing this one particular student to our campus. I'm going to need Zoloft when I tell this student's mom, but I'll cross that bridge in another 6 weeks or so. I'll really cry the last day of school, but I know I'll stay in touch w/ this student's family. I've invested too much in his growth to just walk away. My coordinator asked me if I'd come back to consult for the district, which is something I'd like to do. I also have a set of twins who are moving on to the HS. I told their mom and she hugged me and I got teary eyed. I'll stay in touch with them as well, as they go to a camp for children with special needs in OK that I intend to volunteer with (and they go on scholarship from the monies raised by folks from my home county, including my parents and their deceased friends referenced above).

The next weeks are going to be crazy. I have lots to do, including finding a job and selling a house and hopefully buying a house. I want to live in Norman, home of the University of Oklahoma. This is about 1/2 hour from where my parents and nephew live. I have other relative in the area, and have starting trying to reconnect w/ some college friends. The first I'm not too worried about. The market is good and there aren't alot of people who want to work w/ the population I am interested in working with. I've had a call from a Special Education Director at one of the 2 districts I'm most interested in working in. I'm also applying to teach adjunct at the place where I got my B.S. degree. Consulting is also interesting to me--I may try and explore that avenue in a couple years. Oh, and I think I want to get my PhD in this program, focusing on assistive technology and students with pervasive developmental disorders (i.e. autism and related diagnoses). Again, that's something that won't come for a few years, if then, but the thought of it is something I find really exciting!

Oklahoma is a great place. People care there. It's suffered through it's share of tragedies (I was a college student living in OKC the day of the bombing). The district I have a feeling I'll work in received the brunt of the damage from the tornado that came through in 1999. My parents have experienced the outpouring of support in recent years after family tragedies. There isn't any (or as much) of that pretentiousness that defines Dallas and the Metroplex. Finally, it's home. It's where I belong.


Erika said...

I'm excited for you. Change is scary at times, but once the change begins, it turns into something completely wonderful. I hope the next few weeks go smoothly for you.

Jeff in MD said...

It takes courage to make changes like that, but it looks like a wonderful set of reasons.

Once you figure out what it takes to make you happy, acting on it becomes fuel for the soul :)

Best wishes!

Robyn said...

As someone who recently moved home too, I am so absolutely delighted for you. I am not one bit surprised and wish you the best in coordinating everything.

Jennifer said...

Thanks Erika! My last 2 major moves were halfway across the country, so I tell myself that this one should be easy.

Jeff, that's so very true!

Robyn, I won't say the mountains still don't call at me, but OK is where I belong. I'll just be 3 hours closer to CO! I hope to make it up there again this summer or during the fall.