The week before Christmas was met with both good news and bad news for me. I'll start with the good news, with a little background.
As many of my regular readers know, I lost my job just before Christmas of 2008. I had been in the telecommunications industry for nearly 26 years, mostly at a single company. I was one of the millions who were directly affected by the Great Recession. I was 50 years old, with a wife and young son, and unemployed. It's a sickening feeling, as far too many others in our country can attest.
After several months, I accepted a job in a completely different industry that I hoped might provide a refreshing change of pace and positive prospects for advancement. Unfortunately, that job just wasn't for me, and I quit after about three months. Then I did something I should have done years before: I went back to school for a year and took the necessary courses to become a certified high school social studies teacher.
I completed my student teaching a year ago, and entered the job market immediately thereafter. Of course, the spring semester is not the best time to look for a teaching job, and to no one's surprise, none was forthcoming. However, I was able to substitute frequently, so I was at least able to contribute a little to my household income.
As the spring progressed to summer, it became apparent that there was very little demand for new high school social studies teachers in Northern Illinois. I interviewed for each open position within a 30 mile radius, but nothing materialized. So many school districts were laying off teachers that the few that were hiring chose the experienced teachers who needed work, not the greenies like me.
Then came the week before Christmas. One of the openings I had interviewed for in the summer was at a local private school. When I did not get the job, the principal told me I was number two on his list. Number one was one of those experienced teachers who had recently been released from another school. It turns out, he was quite popular with his students, and was apparently a very good teacher. However, his wife was offered a very lucrative new job in a different state, and after just one semester he resigned so his wife could take advantage of her job offer. As last summer's runner up to the teaching position, the principal called me and asked if I was still interested.
Yes, I was.
Then it got weird. Five hours after accepting the offer, the principal of the school where I had been a student teacher last year called me and offered me a job there. It is a very good, suburban school, with a student body very similar to that of the private school where I had just accepted an offer. What's more, the suburban school was offering more than twice as much pay as the private school. Holy canolli!
I immediately called the private school principal and told him what had happened. I said I could not turn down the other offer when they were going to pay so much more. When I asked if there was anything he could do to sweeten the earlier offer I had accepted, he said he would discuss it with his director and get back to me the next day. Long story short: The private school increased the pay by about 70%, still less than the suburban school. However, I decided to accept the private school's revised offer. Although neither school is guaranteeing the position will be permanent after the spring semester, I feel there is better chance that the private school position can become permanent than the suburban school.
Thus, after nearly three years on very limited income, I will begin receiving a regular paycheck beginning next week. It's a teacher's income, and a beginning teacher at that, so it won't be much. Still, it will be better than the three days a week of work that I've averaged as a substitute. It's truly a good news story for me and my family.
Now the bad news. As a new teacher, I'll be creating most of my lesson plans for the first time. It's a lot of work, and it will take me away from Open Salon. I'm far too fond of this place to stay away completely. I'll check in periodically to see what my friends and favorites here are doing. I will probably even post a little bit myself, but not very much, at least not for a few months.
As we begin our new year, I am excited by the new opportunitites before me. On a macro-economic scale, I am hopeful my positive news will be repeated on a much grander scale. Maybe 2012 will be the year America finally pulls itself out of the terrible economic malaise it has had to live with for nearly four years now. Maybe Europe will get its economic act in order. Maybe India's new economic might will translate into new sales of American products and services. Perhaps China will free its currency to allow more fair competition and a better standard of living for its citizens. Maybe the promises of our last presidential election will actually become reality.
In my household, at least, there is hope.