Well, I’m on my way back to McAllen after a refreshing long weekend with my family. I’ve had some great time to reflect on why I am “teaching for America” and what I came down to the valley seeking to do. Here’s what I’ve realized:
1. I joined Teach for America because I am passionate about working with at-risk children and giving them the skills necessary to pursue a positive life path. If a teaching position doesn’t open up this year, I can certainly still serve at-risk youth in the valley by working at the Boys and Girls Club, tutoring after school, working with the youth group at my church, volunteering at a pregnancy resource center, etc.
2. I definitely feel like God has called me to the Rio Grande Valley to share His love and joy with those around me. I can do that in a variety of contexts and am not limited to doing this as a teacher. Nothing would stop me from being a great witness if I worked at Starbucks or in any other job that could pay my bills for a year.
3. If at all possible, I want to stay in the RGV. Opportunities for teaching positions may open up in Houston or Dallas (or elsewhere in the country), but I am committed to riding it out here in McAllen unless I feel like I am being called elsewhere. For now, I want to continue getting connected in my community here, building relationships with locals, and adapting to the rich culture that I am growing to love.
I’m actually really grateful that I didn’t get a teaching job as smoothly and easily as some of my fellow corps members, because this experience has taught me a lot about having faith in God to provide exactly what I need when I need it- and not comfortably in advance as I sometimes feel I am entitled to. So far, I have had absolutely everything I needed every step of the way. I am flying back to a group of amazing new friends, a prestigious organization that is working to secure employment for me, a beautiful apartment, my well-running car, a fridge full of food, and a closet full of clothes. That is far more than many of the people living in the valley and just south of the valley in Mexico have ever experienced and I have been humbled as I think about all that I have already been blessed with.
So, with all that said, I am headed back with a joyful heart feeling optimistic about the weeks and months ahead! I am going to focus on doing everything I can to make myself highly employable and available for teaching positions over the next five weeks so that I have the best possible opportunity to begin my teaching career this year. I’ve already created and distributed about 15 portfolios of my resume and work to middle schools in McAllen, but I am going to get 20-30 more binders out to nearby districts over the next week. In early October, I will begin seeking alternative employment and have a discussion with my director about deferring teaching until next year. I would be disappointed to not have a class this year, but I am confident that I can secure a job in the area that could pay my bills for the year and where I could make a difference in the community. Starbucks is my first choice if I can’t teach, so I’ve already got an application in to see if positions are open. Being a Barista seems like fun and since I wouldn’t have papers to grade and lesson plans to create after work, I could volunteer in the community in some of the ways I mentioned above.
Alright, that’s enough babbling for now ;) Sending all my love from Dallas Cowboy country. Hugs!!!