10 YEARS INTO MY CAREER, AND I’M STILL MAKING PIVOTS
I LEFT K — 12 EDUCATION FOR A BOOTCAMP
When I was sixteen years old, I was looking for colleges. I knew I wanted to teach because I wanted to help shape the future of this world. When I decided that I wanted to teach high school students, it became time fore me to pick a concentration subject. I was, and am still, a nerd. I love learning about pretty much everything. I boiled my top interests down to these three things:
Political Science: I want to change the world, and know that politics is a method for doing that and impacting a lot of people.
Math: I like it and it seems to be something that a lot of people are afraid of or don’t want to talk about. It rules my decisions. It’s in nature. It’s beautiful. I want to know more.
French: I am 75% Polish and 25% German, but don’t know very much in either language. When I decided to take French as a thirteen year old eighth grade girl, I wanted to learn about people who made movies, ate cheese, and were considered snobby by Americans. I wanted to not just take Spanish, like everyone else, but learn about the people who pioneered the lands my ancestors settled upon in Illinois. Fortunately, Madame NOBLE set me up for success — there was no way I was going to stop studying French, or not go to France to study.
All this rational thinking led me to study Mathematics with a focus in Education and a minor in French at Purdue University in West, Lafayette, IN. Knowing I wanted to return to Illinois and live in Chicago, during the seconds semester of my senior year of college, while an RA in the dorms, I began searching for a job to teach math in the suburbs of Chicago — I was going to reverse commute. However, there was part of me that couldn’t stop thinking about teaching where I live. Helping my own community and impacting the lives of youth who needed someone who could spot their strengths and support them to greatness.
Then, I found what I really wanted. In 2005, Chicago Public Schools had a program, for college bound seniors and recent graduates, to be a Chicago Public Schools Teaching Fellow. I barely made the deadline, but thought that opportunity was too much to pass up. Within days of my application, I received a phone call and was invited immediately to be a fellow. It included free board at UIC or U of C while teaching summer school in a Chicago Public high school, under the guidance of a teacher, and with on going programs and classes surrounding urban education. I was excited and immediately convinced one of my best friends, and current CPS teacher, Jason Cooper, to apply.
After that, I stumbled upon the opportunity to interview, and eventually, substitute teach for freshmen biology and art at ACE Tech Charter High School. It’s charter (to support students in learning about Architecture, Construction, Engineering, and Technology) remains a passion of mine. Although they had already hired enough math teachers for the upcoming school year, we decided that I was the right fit (I had agreed to be part of a pilot Earth Science program, coach robotics and coach girls basketball and soccer), and I got the job.
Flash forward, to lots of drama, including the following juicy pieces of information:
- I have 30 graduate credit hours towards Science education from Loyola University, but due to the recessions, the funding was cut, and still have not earned a Masters degree
- One of the schools I worked at would not fix the copy machine, and my contact with the board resulted to my principal’s resignation (he’s cool, we’re cool)
- At one job, I was told in March to find a new job because my school would have no building in the fall. When the district decided that the school could downsize and continue to use its asbestos ridden building, it was June, and I already had secured a(much less lung destructive) job due to the heads up from the school’s CEO.
- About seven weeks after I bought a house, I learned that my job as an instructional coach to new teachers was at risk due a new grant which required a rehiring process for a position different than my set of skills (it was really looking for K — 8 experience while I had 6 -12), I lost my position after interviewing for the new position
- At a different job, as an assistant principal of STEM and languages, I was managing my own responsibilities, as well as many of the responsibilities of two other positions. We lost a teacher in October, and another in May. I managed the curriculum, grades, and semi-permanent subs of two teachers. On top of all of this, I was ready to quit everything — I felt as if I had no life; we were making robots.
- Months of job hunting led me to an position as a Tech coach in CPS. I started the interviews in May. In July, I found out that I was still in the race. In August, a final interview turned into an on boarding meeting. I went to a two day training. I planned a PD for the staff with the STEM coach and worked almost five days without ever thinking — I should get staffed. When I went to get staffed, I was told I wasn’t certitude to teacher 7th and 8th grade tech because I needed a middle school endorsement. The school offered bring my on a permanent sub while I took online courses to get endorsed in middle school (after nine years of teaching and coaching in Chicago Public Schools).
- My own business (a radio station, practice spaces, recording studio, t-shirt productions, and record label) doubled its profits and spending, and is now going to expand under my control as CFO, and while working all my other gigs, including remote mentoring of teachers
The third and second to last bullets are the reasons I am writing this post — and if you skimmed the bullets, those are worth reading. I realized that I needed to trust the sixteen/seventeen year old who knew she needed to study math above anything else. She knew she wanted to change the world with education and knowledge, but she didn’t know that advocating for the profession of teaching would be one of her passions. She also didn’t realize how much that teaching in Chicago would take away her time to focus on her loves of empowering people with technology and 21st century skills.
My first year, mostly out of K — 12 classrooms and mostly in the bootcamp setting has taught me a lot. When trying to determine my attack plan for this blog post, I could only come up with a list of positives and negatives. There isn’t too much to say — I’m still teaching; I’m still coaching; I’m still deep in the field of education and learning. Still, I had to tell others how I feel after being out of schools and in the bootcamp (and very agile) setting. Here’s what I have to share:
- The students, kids, people communities that I used to work with on a daily basis
- Vacations are not planned — so I need to make sure I take the time
- Every day follows a regular schedule
- Work day starts closer to 8:30AM than 6:30 AM
- I can bike to work
- I can go to lunch and work or not work while eating
- My job has encouraged me to learn to code
- Professional development during work hours is not an issue as long as no meetings are missed
- I can work from home
- I set my own vacations
- I am empowered to make decisions
- There is no fear of strike or need to validate my purpose on the staff or as part of the team
- I feel like a professional
- There is time for me to work on my own projects because I mange my time.
- I am empowering people with skills that work for now and the future: I am living my dream.
Finally, I you get to hear how I feel about being out of the K- 12 ecosystem. It’s empowering. I’m finally getting to do things that impact students across the country. I’m wringing with adults who want to change their lives and make apps. I am helping people to shape the future of this world. I think that sixteen year old Stacy would be proud. I just really miss the students and the communities. I look forward to earning a grant so that Mobile Makers can do just that.