Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 16 2012

Third year teacher, fourth year administrative intern?


C: I don’t know what to do.
D: Do what you want to do.
C: I don’t know what I want to do!
D: Then do what you think you want to do.

After accidentally taking a week off, I ran my fastest 5k in months through the dark on dirt roads in damp air. I’m still in my running clothes, debating if I want to eat dinner. I haven’t been able to taste anything since last weekend, when a sinus infection set in. While running, this conversation from yesterday clicked, and soothed some of the anxiety I’ve been harboring for the past few weeks.

I don’t know what I want to do. I’ve never been very motivated by actual jobs or positions for what industry they’re in; I’ve always been motivated by learning everything about whatever I’m closest to, by excelling and earning authority from honest work at whatever it looks like needs work. This becomes problematic when choosing a career because of the choosing part.

If we lived in a society in which people were placed in occupations, I think I might be incredibly happy and successful. I’d learn everything there is to know, revel in being an expert, and be pleasant all the time.

Instead I have a habit of doing whatever looks competitive, of doing things I think others might balk at. Teaching might be an example of that, despite how much I genuinely love it.

The point is: I don’t know what I want to do.

But so far, if I look at my actions of the past three years, I think I want to do what it is I’m doing. I think I want to stay in education, think I want to love these kids a lot more, think I want to keep learning everything I can about how to teach. I think I want leadership and accountability that reaches farther than my classroom. I think I want formal education beyond this alternative educator’s license.

So. I made a decision that could potentially change my life, or at least solidify my plans for the next two years, minimum.

I applied to grad school.

Simple enough, but the process was similar to my applying to TFA. I talked to everyone I could think of, I pestered the recruiter and current program participants. I assumed the application would be “easy” then wrote literally 8 different personal statements, finally deciding on a revised version of the second. If I get in, I might share the statement as I begin that journey, much like I did my (now embarrassing) TFA statement when I began this blog.

I’m relatively shocked at myself when I can honestly state, “I applied to Columbia.” I’ve always scoffed at big name schools, at elitism and prissy education. But the more I think about it, the more committed I am in my desire to do this.

It’s called the Summer Principals Academy, a 14-month program that allows you to walk away (assuming you pass the exams) with an administrative license. Yep. An license in administration. Caroline as an administrator? If I get accepted, and if I find a miraculous way to fund the more-than-40k price tag, I would be guaranteed to stay in Dumas for at least a fourth year. The coursework is 5 weeks of classes in summer 2013 (at Tulane in New Orleans), a year-long internship in my current school, then another 5 weeks of classes next summer. If I get any financial aid from the state of Arkansas, it will likely be with a commitment for me to stay in Arkansas education for at least two years beyond that.

Staying in Arkansas until I’m 30?

Committing to rural American education?

My heart jumps a little faster just typing it– but this is what I think I want to do.

One Response

  1. Travis

    just saw this. I’m terrifically excited for you, in addition to being optimistic. keep following your instincts – the only way you can go wrong is by ignoring what seems right or best in your heart of hearts. good luck!

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