The power of staying, Pt. 1

I’m in the throes of my 19th year in the classroom and have taught at some incredible places. Let’s start at the beginning.

Rialto Middle School hired me as an intern teacher in 1997 and tenured me the same year. My second year I was a “team leader” and joined the AVID program and fell in love with the possibility of amazing.

Montgomery High School hired me just before the start of the school year in 1999 after the district for Rancho Cotati High School never followed up with their phone interview hire. It was a shift moving to high school but the direction of my critical eye became apparent during these three years. The staff at this Santa Rosa institution opened their arms for me and I became an honors teacher, 24 Hour Relay coordinator and basketball announcer and shot clock setter.

Leaving Montgomery was simply a matter of family- having taught _The Grapes of Wrath_ to juniors, I realized that I too wanted my own piece of California by way of a house and I needed to be closer to my family. During spring break of 2002 I was interviewed then hired by Ray Plutko at ML King High School. While I wondered where the transition from two great schools would lead me, I was excited to be home and closer to all that was familiar. My first two years at King brought me in touch with AVID, intramural sports, announcing for boys basketball and volleyball, and ASB.

Moving to Louisiana seemed logical. Having reconnected with a high school sweetheart from my youth in the south seemed like the perfect opportunity to leave the hustle of SoCal and relax with the woods and rains of a slower paced life. We married the summer of 2004 and I was off without a job in hand because everyone I talked to said they were easy to come by. Little did I know the difficulty that was education in the south.

Linwood Middle School and Mrs. Monica Jenkins-Moore hired me to take over a classroom or 8th grade reading at a campus that was largely segregated and underperforming. Thanks to Louisiana’s “LEAP Exam”, many students who couldn’t pass the 8th grade test were retained and spent another agonizing year in the same space as young adults swimming in the halls with youth. The staff I was blessed to be with became family and for them I am forever indebted.

Since 2005 I have been back at King. I have mixed emotions about it and will explore those later.