Since Kindergarten I have wanted to be a teacher. It was what I was supposed to do. Even though I always knew I was going to be one someday, it took until I was in my thirties to actually put my faith in action, go out on a limb, change the direction of my career, go back to get an applicable degree, and become a certified teacher. Even further back than that, it took me becoming a single parent to get me back into school at the age of 28 which lead to a two year degree that got me headed in the right direction toward what will eventually be a Doctorate.
I believe that there are things we are called to do, for instance my calling to become a teacher. It took a lot of work on my part to get there. It was not just handed to me because it was my calling. I had to have faith that if I took a chance, took out loans to pay for college, and left a job paying more money than teaching, I would be successful. Sure, I could have continued working as a Real Estate Paralegal and never taken the leap of faith that put me in the teaching world, but I would have always had the nagging feeling that there was something else I was meant to do. I would have always had the desire to teach in some capacity whether in Sunday school or Vacation Bible School or even in training new hires in my department at work. My calling to teach would have manifested itself. The calling on my life to be a teacher was so strong that it was not something I could ignore. God has continued to direct my path in various ways.
I applied every year for four years to get a teaching position in the district where I currently teach. Every year I would spend the spring and summer e-mailing schools and applying for every possible opening. I would give up once school started in the Fall, and catch the teaching bug again every spring. Finally in November of 2006, after I had given up on getting a teaching position for that year, a friend of mine called and told me there was an opening at a high school in the district where she was a substitute teacher. I contacted that Principal and was told that was incorrect. They had no opening. This lead me to check the website and find that another high school in the district, closer to my house, was indeed hiring. I immediately e-mailed the campus and to my surprise was offered an interview! Needless to say, I was hired and have spent 6 years on that campus.
In those 6 years I have held two different job titles. Initially, I was a Family Consumer Science teacher overseeing classes in Apparel, Interior Design, Housing, Independent Living Skills, Career Preparation, and Personal Family Development. During the three years I taught in this department I gained a love and respect for special needs students that I had not expected. This led me to obtain certification in Special Education mid-way through that third year. Believe it or not, shortly thereafter we were advised that there would be a reduction in staff in our department the following year. At the same time I found out that there was going to be an opening in the self-contained special needs class where my favorite students spent most of their day outside of their time in my room. After a very long summer of not knowing for sure where I was going to spend the next year, I was offered and accepted the new assignment as Special Education Life Skills teacher of primarily Medically Fragile students. This was God’s timing at work in a big way. I have spent the last three years loving the kids and learning so much about children with special needs.
Last December I completed Graduate Academic Certification in Applied Behavior Analysis. This certificate along with 1500 hours in a behavior-analytic setting would qualify me to sit for the board certification examination in behavior analysis. For the year and a half I spent in the graduate program and the months following I have been searching for a position in the school system or in the private sector that would give me these required hours. My search continued to be unsuccessful due to additional stipulations on my ability to accept a position outside of my current one. For example, I am working to complete 5 years in a low-income school in order to have up to $17,500 of my student loans forgiven. I also needed to stay in the same school district due to insurance and other similar issues. So far, for nearly two years, there had not been a posted opening for a school that met all of these criteria. I applied for other positions that did not meet these criteria and nothing came through. Finally, I told God that I was going to wait for Him to open the doors at the right school. I was not going to apply for anything else until that time.
Two weeks ago, just a few days before the deadline to resign from my current position, a position was posted for a teacher in our district at a low income school in an Autism classroom. This was it!
Everything fell into place quickly! Moments after applying for the position, I sent an e-mail to the Principal expressing my interest. Within 15 minutes I received a call to set up an interview. At the interview the Principal teared up when I explained to her my vision for these students and how important I believe them to be in the grand scheme of the school. I knew at that moment that I had the job. An hour later she called and asked me if I would accept the position. Last week I picked up my keys! God is so good!
Ten years ago when I started working on getting my teaching certification and applying for open positions I would have never imagined myself working with special needs children. It’s amazing how things fall into place when we listen to God and follow His calling on our hearts. They say, “God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called!” I am proof of that.
Are you letting God qualify you for your calling?