If you’ve followed my monthly columns at The Teachers’ Lounge this year, you know that two years ago I was laid off from my teaching job in my hometown due to budget cuts. Fortunately, I was able to land another job teaching in the next town over only 4 miles from my home. The situation seemed ideal. Until that district decided to lay off about 120 teachers at the end of last year. Of course, I was at the bottom of the totem pole, having been hired at the last minute, so back to the ranks of the unemployed I went.
Really Good Stuff and a Teacher’s Unemployment Journey
I spent last summer packing boxes of teaching materials and hauling them into storage. AGAIN. And sending out resumes and going on job interviews. AGAIN. But I wasn’t so lucky last summer. There were simply no jobs. So I had to figure out what to do with myself and the thrice weekly Really Good Stuff catalogs I received in the mail. I wondered how on earth I was going to survive without the income, but more importantly, without the excitement and energy little kids bring to my life on a daily basis.
In the course of blogging about missing my Really Good Stuff fix on my personal blog, Born in Our Hearts, I mentioned the name of one of my educational “heroes,” Debbie Diller, who has written some fabulous books on classroom organization. Her book Literacy Work Stations is like my educational Bible.
And then a funny thing happened. Debbie Diller actually read my blog, posted a comment, and mentioned me to the folks at Really Good Stuff. One thing led to another, and a week later I received an email from the managing editor of The Teachers’ Lounge, asking if I’d like to write a monthly column for them for the 2010-2011 academic year chronicling the ins and outs of a displaced teacher’s job search and my feelings about being a teacher without a classroom.
It went without saying that I said yes.
I had wanted to be a writer my entire life and had initially majored in journalism in college. Being a published writer was like a dream come true for me.
A few months into the school year, after I had a few columns under my belt, I was sitting in my daughter’s 1st grade classroom organizing the Scholastic Book order forms for her teacher. Because I was bored and lonely and needed the smell of paste, construction paper, and the sound of children’s voices to cheer me up. Because the classroom is my home away from home and I relished any opportunity to be there amongst the chatter and excitement of little minds at work.
Suddenly, a woman I’d never seen before came walking into the room and introduced herself as the Manager of Product Development at Really Good Stuff. She was at the school observing–the company is located in my hometown–and had seen my name on the sign in sheet in the main office. She told me she too had read my blog, asked if I were familiar with the company’s products (I have an entire storage rental facility cram full of boxes of stuff from the company), and would I like to write for the Product Development Department?
Another resounding yes.
So, in addition to writing my monthly column, I began taking on the additional role of freelance writer, creating activity guides to go along with the company’s original products.
Only a few months later, I was offered a part time position at my daughter’s school as their Kindergarten Intervention Specialist, working with students who needed an extra boost to reach benchmark standards in language arts and math. It was the perfect way to get my foot back in the door and to be back in the classroom. Plus, I got four day weekends; they have been nice.
Then last week, I had taken a sick day from work and was resting when, out of the blue, I received a call from my principal offering me a full time job teaching 3rd grade for next year!
So, in September I’ll be back in the town where I originally was laid off two years ago in the exact same room where I began my teaching career 18 years ago…working in my daughter’s school about a mile and a half away from my house. I mean, could things have turned out any better?
I look at it this way. Had I not gotten laid off that second time, I’d still be in that other town teaching, but I never would have gotten the fantastic opportunities to do what I truly love–to write. And I wouldn’t be back teaching in the district I wanted to be in all along not having to worry about child care and all those other things moms have to concern themselves with when they work outside the home. My daughter is right in the building with me.
Now that’s really good stuff.
About the Author
Wendy Cushing has been teaching for 28 years in grades Pre-K-3. She currently teaches 3rd grade in Monroe, Connecticut. In addition to teaching, Wendy enjoys pinning teaching ideas she will never use, party planning, freelance writing, and hanging out with her over 300 lbs. worth of dogs. She is mom to two wonderful daughters, one living in NYC, and the other about to enter 7th grade.