“I don’t know, but I never pictured you as a teacher. But once I thought about it, that’s exactly what you’ve been for a very long time. Whether it was as a pastor, youth leader, husband/father – you have maintained a role as an educator for a long time. Really, this is just another facet of a path you are already on.” –Renzee Standberry
I hate it when friends break you down. It’s like they know you or something. When I last wrote about me looking for work, I mentioned that I was willing to do whatever to make ends meet but the big picture involved me wanting to change the direction of my life and do something closer to my heart and skill set. Who knew that I’d end up a teacher?
An administrative assistant at our sons’ school asked if I’d be interested in being a substitute teacher. Sally and I kicked the idea around, with her pointing out that I’d developed quite the heart for kids, including wanting to teach them creative writing through programs like Second Story. (I’m not oblivious to the fact that she may have been trying to spin things as she had earlier convinced me to be the boys’ Cub Scout leader.) Then our pastor’s wife, who is also the Dean of The Oaks Academy, heard about this possible interest/ Suddenly I’m putting twenty years as a scientist and ten years as a professional writer to good use as a full-time in house sub at two schools.
To my great surprise, my sons love having me at their school. In fact, for some reason I’m a rock star in my oldest’s class. I was shocked that they weren’t too old or too cool to be seen with me. Though, I am also keenly aware that they assumed a party would erupt as soon as “dad” entered the room. In fact, I wondered if I was letting them get away with too much as I quickly got the reputation at their school as “the nice sub”.
Okay, my laid back style helped.* I ain’t trying to let a bunch of kids drive me crazy and make me yell at them. (And yes, I really did do a reading of King’s Justice in my class of fifth graders once, which held them in rapt attention). But I received the biggest compliment from a group of my fifth grade boys when they asked me to transfer with them to middle school. Caught in a moment of honesty they said: “We don’t listen well, but you get us. You don’t think we’re bad.”
That pretty much summed up my experience there. It broke my heart how many kids want me as their dad simply because I talk to them, listen to them and hug them. So the whole experience has me thinking. I’d love to somehow combine the experiences, bringing The Oaks Academy methods to a public school environment. I don’t know. I do know that I fell in love with the kids and since many of them live in my neighborhood , I’ll be seeing them often. Some have already started bicycling by so they can say “hi”.
But the school year draws to an end and I’ll be once again scrambling to find work to make ends meet. But I think I’m catching a vision for what I’d like to be doing. Maybe in the fall, I’ll be looking toward doing this on a more permanent basis. First things first, let’s make it through the summer.
*And I won’t lie: I never got tired of writing my name on the board and announcing “They call me Mr. Broaddus”.