During the course of the fall, I continued working on an unpaid research project, started while in a professional development program, that took me to educational programs around the state. As part of this project, I met with, interviewed, and observed a number of teachers and administrators. I loved talking to educators who were passionate about their work with young people, and I found them opening up to me in great detail. It also seemed that I was able to give something back to them. During our conversations, there were regularly moments where my observations, suggestions, or ideas had a positive impact. It both surprised (in all humility) and pleased me that what I had to offer was considered so valuable.
Eventually, one of these meetings led to conversations about how I might contribute more to the project at hand. I was invited to make a proposal, and at a meeting in January, my proposal was accepted without discussion (at which point I kicked myself for not asking for more!) In the end, I had a letter of agreement, as a consultant, that did give a bit more than I had asked for. This is officially my first consulting job. (Unlike the last one I applied for, this time I was the local person.) It is short term (10 weeks), but open to renegotiation, and in fact, we are already discussing my extended participation.
This work, as “program developer” for an alternative program, is right up my alley. It uses my knowledge and skills, it is philosophically in line with my passions, and it means working with someone who seems to share my vision. I’m currently putting more time and thought into this than I am officially paid for, but the satisfaction is worth it. Professionally, it gives me respected standing in my previous professional network and is also opening doors to new contacts.
This opportunity came about because I continued with a personal research project, on my own, determined not to give up my professional interests in the face of a depressing situation. It was hard to do keep going, but now there are some rewards, and the possibility of future opportunities.
[Actually, this should count as my fifth job. The fourth would be as a substitute teacher. In January I had an interview to register as a substitute teacher for local school districts. This was an easy one, as the manager was delighted to have me on the books, knowing me from my previous position. However, in spite of being on the list, I have not yet done any subbing. My schedule has been too full with my other (better paying) part-time jobs.]
Congrats, Nita. Sounds like a win-win for you and the school system. mary