My kids are somewhere in those back cars!
Wanna go for a ride? It's a long roller coaster chock full of crazy ups and downs. It's not recommended for the faint of heart or those prone to motion sickness.
If roller coasters are not for you, here is the short version: I applied for a job and didn't get it. I was offered two other positions and turned them down. A fourth opportunity was presented and I accepted.
If details are your kind of thing, make sure your safety harness is securely fastened because this ride is so long and draw out, it can't be experienced in one sitting.
Let's start with a little background information. Several years ago, while our family was struggling through unemployment, I started the process of getting my Washington state teaching certificate. It was a rather lengthy process which included getting transcripts, fingerprints and all sorts of other documents. In the end, I was able to come up with all of the necessary elements except for one: I was required to take an elementary education endorsement test called the WEST-E.
In the meantime, I was granted a temporary residency certificate that was good for six months. I started subbing but soon enough, Jon went back to work and I let my temporary certificate expire without ever taking the test.
Two years later, when things fell apart with my coaching job, I decided to return to subbing. I contacted the state certification office and was told I could apply all of the elements of my previous certification application toward a lifetime substitute certificate. That way, I could sub and I wouldn't have to take the test. I never intended to do more than sub--at least for the foreseeable future--so I did just that; received a lifetime substitute certificate.
Sub jobs came quickly and in great quantity. I stayed as busy as I wanted to be--sometimes even more--working only in our neighborhood's school. It was busy, and sure, it had its down sides, but I very much enjoyed my job.
At the end of May, as I was signing in at the office for that morning's position, the secretary said to me, "[The principal] shared with me that it's his goal to get you on the staff." I was taken aback and flattered, but I awkwardly mumbled something about liking the job that I had and went about my day.
Less than a week later, the principal himself said to me, "I'm just waiting for you to tell me you're ready to come back." Again I was flattered and again I said something about liking the flexibility that being a substitute offered me. He responded by saying, "Well, it has to be right for you and your family, but when you're ready, you let me know."
Three days after that, I was busy writing a report of a teacher from whom I had just subbed when the principal came walking in. He said he came to "put a bug in my ear." A three-day-a-week, full day kindergarten, job-share position had just become available. He had spoken with his kindergarten staff--teachers for whom I had subbed regularly throughout the year--and they had recommended me as a ideal candidate for the position. The principal added his opinion to theirs that I would be great for this job.
I was stunned. I love kindergarten and a three-day-a-week job seemed the perfect way to return to a career in education. It was the right school, the right grade level and the right amount of time. But there was the issue of my certificate. I shared this issue with the principal and he seemed entirely undeterred. We agreed that he would check with the district HR department and I would call the state office to see if the current state of my certificate would prevent me from being able to accept this position. The principal told me to take the weekend to think about it but that there was also a sense of urgency because the job was closing in one week.
"Oh my word! [The principal] just offered me a job!" I said to Jon when I got home. Of course, he hadn't, really, but that's how it felt.
After thinking about it over the weekend, Jon and I decided this was an opportunity worth pursuing. What followed were a few crazy days of gathering professional reference forms and letters of recommendation. As I went about this process, I discovered something that would change everything: Another regular, well-respected sub at the school had learned of the position and had decided to apply. And then this significant detail: she is the wife of the principal of the middle school down the street.
I was deflated. I thought seriously about ceasing the application process but ultimately decided it might appear unprofessional to do so. After all, the principal himself had encouraged me to apply. So I gathered the necessary documents and submitted them, along with a cover letter to the district office. I also called the state office and was told that should a hiring district request it, I could be granted an emergency certificate good for 180 days as long as I was also pursuing my testing.
Over the course of the next week, I felt buoyed by the support of many staff members, some of which even voiced that they felt I was the best choice for the position.
Exactly one week after the job closed, I had my first district-level interview. It consisted of 12 scripted questions administered by a panel of principals from different schools in the district. From these interviews all of the new teachers for the next school year would be hired. Each interviewer took feverish notes of my responses and then the quality of each answer was graded on a 1-5 scale. There was very little eye-contact and zero feedback--a very formal and rather intimidating format.
I left feeling like I'd interviewed well and went home to wait for the call to schedule a second-level principal's interview. While I waited, the teacher with whom I would be job-sharing texted me to ask how the interview went. She added, "Keeping fingers and toes crossed! It would be so much fun to work together!"
The message I was getting was that the principal wanted me, other staff wanted me, even the teacher with whom I'd share a classroom wanted me. And yet days went by without a call for a second interview.
At last the principal sent me a text to tell me that the position for which I'd applied was not going to be filled from the pool of interviews that I'd been a part of the previous week. He said that kindergarten positions were now going to be filled through a separate job posting which would require me to submit a new cover letter and go through another district-level interview. The worst part about this news was this: the new posting wouldn't close for another month!
So the "hurry up and get your application in" turned into "sit around and wait."
Next up in part II: I take the test.