Back to School

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Life seems to have gone from o to 100 mph in a matter of weeks and I can't remember if I'm coming or going. All I know is I'm tired. But a good-kind-of-tired.

While on our vacation, it suddenly became apparent to me that I was entering a new season with my kiddos. They shared their own cabin and came and went as they pleased. I began to wonder if they might also be able to live on their own. Although I know this is not reality, the fact that they adapted to this lifestyle with such ease made me wonder if it might be time for some changes in this momma's life.

I have loved and appreciated the privilege of being a full-time mom for the past 13 years. The minute my firstborn was placed in my arms, no job could compete with my intense desire to be home with him. Being that the other two followed in short succession, there wasn't time even ponder going back to work. That, coupled with the fact that we had no family support system around us and I never really had a "career" to speak of , made staying home a "no-brainer." As I've watched my friends juggle work and family I simply found it an area I had no desire to enter into. I never wanted to be faced with the dilemma of what to do when a child was sick or an emergency arose and I had to choose between my work and my family. I was content to keep busy with a myriad of projects and simply managing our home. Until now.

As I had time to think and journal on the two long flights home, a stirring began that wouldn't go away. Over twenty years ago, while a sophomore in college, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I went back to see my middle school English teacher and spent a week observing in her classroom. I left there thinking I would return two years later to student teach under her supervision. When the time came to see an advisor, and declare my major, I learned that secondary education was a five-year program. My parents had only agreed to pay for the 4-year plan, and not a quarter more. My sister was fast on my heels and close to entering college herself. Two college tuitions were not in the cards. As disappointed as I was, I did understand. Not having gone to college themselves, my parents were making a huge sacrifice in giving me a college education with no student loans. I didn't want to burden them anymore so I majored in communications and graduated two years later. I do believe that was the best plan for my life for who I was at the time. However, since my oldest entered middle school, that desire to be in the classroom--other than as a volunteer--has never left me. I had inquired into the process of getting my teaching certificate a couple years ago but the process seemed to arduous if I couldn't do it online. I'm such a whimp!

As soon as we returned home, I called WWU's (Western Washington University) School of Education. The lady I spoke with walked me through the process but told me I was too late for Fall Quarter because of a skills assessment test that had to be completed back in March. She took my student number and promised to get back in touch with me. Didn't happen. A week later I received a call from a gentleman in the department asking for my student number. Huh??? Again, I didn't hear a word for another week and the April 1 deadline was fast approaching.

On March 30, the young man called and spent forever on the phone with me. He was so unbelievably positive and encouraging. He insisted that I wasn't too late for Fall quarter nor for taking the West-B exam that is required for admission. All I had to do was submit a petition with my application asking them to hold its review pending the test scores and take the test on April 17. I promised to come in the next morning and collect all the necessary documents and order my transcript.

March 31st: I couldn't believe how intimidated it felt to walk across campus where I spent four years of my life. I felt so old. But as I stepped on to the cobblestone walkway toward Old Main I decided that everyone would probably just assume I was a professor. Ha! The Registrar's office told me that they typically need two days notice but they could have my transcript ready by 5:00. (Thank you, God.) Next stop: Woodring College of Education where I met my savior, Matt face-to-face. He walked me through the entire application process and sent me on my way. Walking back to my car, was stunned to read the requirements (which would be due TOMORROW) included TWO letters of recommendation and FOUR essays!! Gasp.

It was a no-brainer. I grabbed my phone and texted good ol' Teri Lynn. She's a middle school teacher and my BFF from ages 13-18. The one who talked me into going down this crazy path. "No problem. It will be in your inbox by 4:00. Which email address?" YES!! The second letter was to (preferably) be from a university professor. Being that 20 years had passed since I sat in a college classroom, I was perplexed. "Hello, Matt?? An employer or someone who could vouch for my organizational and communication skills would suffice. I stopped in at the elementary school and saw my most favorite teacher there who I worked with the most on PTA projects and events. She gladly agreed and even offered to print it on school letterhead if I came by the next afternoon. Whew! Nothing like cutting it close.

I stayed up until 1:00 a.m. composing essays that would hopefully convince the "powers that be" to welcome me into their post baccaleaurate teaching program. The next day I started my new job (a later post), went by the school and picked up Allison's glowing letter. After reading it I thought to myself: "Wow, I like me. Who is this person she described?" I then dropped off Ben at Trey's office, drove to campus, picked up my transcript, made a copy and turned in my admissions packet to the university. While waiting for my copy a familiar face walked around the corner: turns out the elementary school PTA President is one of "the" official admissions people. Talk about confirmation and God's favor. She piled on some more encouragement and sent me on my way to the last stop: Woodring. Just as I went through the door, who do I bump into guessed it....... Matt! I reluctantly relinquished my application--I'd become quite attached in the last 24 hours--and wanted to give everyone in the room a big celebratory hug! I guess I can save that for when the acceptance letter arrives!