Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 29 2012

To the advancement of mental health.

Acknowledgement:

The last post was depressing, within reason. It’s never nice to be given something then have it taken away. Aside from that little tug at my gut, I was mostly relieved at the great disappearing act of the Sacramento offer. This is because it 1) helped narrow down options 2) stopped me from rationalizing how I could force that into being a good fit for me 3) allowed my appetite to return (in conjunction with finishing my AF application process this past Thursday).

After that post, I am trying to figure out how to quantify the surprisingly large response I got through various mediums, encouraging me as a human. I feel like I’m walking a line, because I don’t need sympathy or trash-talking of the lost offer, but I do need to process the experience to realize what I’m offering and lacking professionally, what I’m willing to work under from a principal, and where I want to be next year. I had two facebook messages, text messages, emails, and a handful of irl conversations that directly referenced that post. It was embarrassing, but I remember how desperate I was as a first year, wondering what all my second-year friends were going through. The ideal, then, would be that other people can learn from what I experienced.

Sick, sick, self-reflection.

As for the rest of my life, in chronological order:

This was Caroline’s schedule for the past so many days: Sacramento hotel –> Sacramento friend’s apartment –> Little Rock hotel –> Dumas bed x3 nights –> Hartford hotel –> Dumas bed –> Russellville hotel –> Dumas please for the rest of this week!

Hartford, from the tiny bit I saw, is a dirty, hilly suburb. I love Achievement First. I’m a convert. I genuinely love that attitudes, procedures, routines, rules, uniforms, work ethic, mutual respect, graphic design, I love most of everything about them. Except I don’t like Hartford. And I don’t like picking out 50 kids for each grade (what, exactly, it is about those tiny class sizes that bothers me I can’t pinpoint — maybe the lacking opportunity for the rest of the city?) I don’t know if I like the idea of switching from writing to reading. I don’t know if I’m interested in moving across the country again, to mingle with a group of 20-something, white, middle class women who have mostly my same upbringing and values, to teach a group of 50 kids how they can reach their American dream. I don’t know why I don’t believe in this, but going to Achievement First (twice), teaching a sample lesson, having a [really insightful and extremely worthwhile] interview, and going through these applications has further solidified that I love charter schools, I just don’t see myself working at one.

WHAT?! DID I JUST BLOG-PROCLAIM THAT?

I love Dumas. I love it here. I love my students the most, then the TFA community, then the community at large, then the backward-full-of-opportunity everything, then my bed, then my content area, then the grade level I teach, then the forward momentum I feel monthly from our leadership team meetings.

Not only that, but Saturday we had our first grad seminar at Arkansas Tech. Without really realizing it, I’ve started my higher higher education. My first class is free, my professors are completely in tune with how insane education is, especially in the Delta, and want to make it better. My classmates are insightful and passionate and participatory. In school I was never one to participate or say much without prompting, but during this seven hour class I could not keep my mouth shut. I was engaged and interested and very seriously considering what this community means to me, and what it would mean to leave it.

So I’m not sure I’m going to.

Then I found out Nicolle is staying. And Hannah will be here, and all my Pine Bluff first years will be growing and changing and still existing 45 minutes north of me. And Little Rock isn’t going anywhere. And maybe that change I’m craving could just be a new apartment, with a new roommate.

Now I’m really not sure I’m going to. And I think whoever this “A friend who has been there” that posted a comment on my last entry might have been reading my future when s/he questioned “Why try to go where you’re not wanted when you’re wanted right where you are?” Maybe I don’t like the negative implication of “not wanted”, but the sentiment is right. Why am I trying to figure out where I want to go when I don’t have a huge problem with where I am.

Granted, my one caveat is that when I travel this much, and stay this busy, and don’t dwell, being here is fabulous. But after three weeks Delta-bound I start to remember how old I am, who I am not meeting, and all the things I gave up to be here. I’m happy because I’ve been literally from one coast to the other in the past 10 days. Will I still feel like this after the length of February?

SERIOUSLY LAST THOUGHT: If I don’t start a new job with new training, my summer is free to work institute (if accepted), go to Israel (if accepted), and keep working on my masters (if I can find another scholarship). Huge, huge benefit.

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