The gates re-open…

Last spring, as I was in the throes of student teaching suburban Chicagoland, my classmates in the city were buzzing about Chicago Public School’s decision to close the substitute teaching pool to new applicants. At the moment, we were disappointed to hear that our expectations of earning some well-deserved cash and teaching experience after our May graduation had been dashed. As the summer ensued I came to think of that decision as the gates of the almighty job market being closed, rather officially, in my face.

With few connections and essentially no experience, substitute teaching is an excellent way to get your foot in the door. There are over 21,000 teachers in CPS and, given that it’s such an enormous district, the principals hire directly for their school. They’re busy people. They need me right up under their nose, especially in a market that qualified resume-me as a dime-a-dozen.

So I tried suburban schools, parochial schools, private schools but quickly found that education in Chicago can be likened to a food chain; the conservatism demonstrated by CPS trickled its way down into my plan B, C, D and so on.

Nine months later, the gates re-open and I can’t help but feel a surge of optimism. The following excerpt from the email gives the specifics.

If you are a regularly certified teacher, CPS will review your application and select applicants who meet prescribed criteria and match the district’s hiring needs. We will make selections on a rolling basis, and we will invite selected applicants to attend substitute teacher hiring events to interview for potential positions. Please note that CPS will not invite all interested applicants to events, and we will not guarantee that all who attend will be hired. Instead, CPS will provide formal offer letters to applicants based on the specific needs of the district at the time of hire (e.g. geographic flexibility, grade-level and subject-area needs).

As you can see, my chances are still pretty slim. They are obligated to place formerly tenured CPS teachers first, and even after that I’m guaranteed nothing. Incredibly, this is a limited-time offer! On January 7th, they are again closing the pool.

True to my closing statement on my resume, I am undaunted by the prospects. I will get in and I will get a full-time classroom teaching position next fall.

So, cheers! To the impending re-titling of this blog in 2011.


Seeking comfort and finding change.

‘Tis the season for comfort. Comfort food, comfy sweaters, steaming cups of comfort by cozy fires – you get the picture. We take comfort in reliving traditions and making new ones. But as I seek my traditional comforts this season, I’m met with more than a little change instead.

My parents decided to move out of my childhood home in the country and into town over the Christmas holiday. Having grown up with a family that discussed moving on an annual basis, I can’t lie that I was a bit unprepared for it to actually happen. I’m thrilled for this change in their lives and the positive effect it will have on all them. I completely appreciate the necessity of the decision and what precipitated the long-debated move becoming a finality.

My mom asked me numerous times if I would miss the house (our house, as I will always think of it) and I could only respond that I would miss it mostly for my children, because it’s simply one of those magical places you can only visit to really understand.

home home1 home2

But of course, living in a 150 year old farmhouse was less than magical in the day-to-day. I have deep-rooted memories of trying to fall asleep with pounds and pounds of quilts on top of me in the winter. I’m convinced that it took me years after moving out to increase my internal body temperature so that I wasn’t incessantly and unreasonably cold. The legacy of the house was equally chilling at times. Given that the home has belonged to the same family for those entire 150 years, there are reflections of each passing family in the home and it was difficult to ever make our own mark there (however hard I tried and much to the chagrin of my father).

My mother, the suburbanite, the baby boomer, is ready for a more comfortable lifestyle, and in this season, who can really blame her? Being the woman of the house (okay, apartment) myself, I can certainly agree that if mama’s happy, everyone is happy.