Friday, April 3, 2009

Sometimes the choice isn't ours

Thirty years ago I moved to Washington D.C.. The choice to move there wasn't mine. I would be finishing my degree in art education and had been substitute teaching art in a local district in hopes of landing a job there when I was finished. So the idea of packing up and moving somewhere else was not what I had planned for myself. After all, we had a lovely two family home and a great three year old son. My family and my husband's family all lived nearby. we were comfortable if not rich.

My husband was a middle school science teacher and had been for about 7 years. He should have felt pretty secure but our local school district had had trouble passing their budgets so they had informed him every year for three years that he may not have a job in the fall. In this district he was the last science teacher hired therefore he would be the first to go. During his last year of teaching he had assigned a project for students to investigate and report about careers in science. One of his students wrote about a program at Georgetown University. This program, at no cost to the students, trained people to be ophthalmology technicians. He was very interested in this program so he wrote to Georgetown for more information. Then he applied and was accepted.

He left at the end of the school year but I still had one more course to complete so I would not be joining him until sometime in September. We were very naive about the change. We thought it would be easy to find a place to live and I would easily find a job as an art teacher since I had some experience and a degree. Because we were not sure that we wanted to stay in D.C after he completed his two year program, we rented our house in Maine and arranged for my father to pick up the rent every month. We had just enough money to last us through December if we were frugal and we were sure that I would easily find a job.

We found an apartment in Hyattsville, Maryland just outside the District. The apartment complex would allow us to have our dog and had a child care facility ( a Montesori school) on site. Perfect! Art teaching jobs were nonexistent. No problem. I had worked for the local Blue Cross and Blue Shield office in the Public Relations Department and had written some training programs that had received recognition from the National Plan. There was an office in DC. So armed with recommendations and the knowledge that I knew the person with whom I would be interviewing, I felt pretty secure. No Soap! While they thought I was qualified for the position that was available, they couldn't hire me as I did not understand how the "district" worked.

We were rapidly running out of money and I was thinking of returning home with Jeremy where at least I could find a job. Then one day I was reading the classifieds and I saw an advertisement for someone with a degree in art who could read and write Spanish and was capable of writing grants for a school that used the arts as the main focus of education. I nearly fell off my chair. This, I was sure, was the reason we had come here. I had always felt that the best way to teach a child was to use the arts. I called the school, talked to the Director and arranged for an interview. I was hired on the spot but not before I negotiated free tuition for my son as daycare in DC was very expensive and the pay was low. Thus my two year tenure at the Children's Studio School in Washington DC began.

To be continued........

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