Friday, July 15, 2005

Out of the comfort zone

A wise person once said, "How do you know what great things you may be able to do, if you don't try something that seems impossible?"

Who said that? Well, I did. I said it to myself, just the other day. I'm sure someone else has said something similar, at some point. I'm sure that someone was famous. I probably read it on a greeting card, once.

In any case, I was saying this to myself to keep from vomiting. My viscera were rumbling because I had done something that was decidedly out of my comfort zone.

A little history:

For those of you who have been reading this blog from the beginning, it will come as no surprise to know that I have been unhappy with my current financial and career position as of late. I'm actually happy with the actions my career entails, but because I am paid so very little, not even enough to support my family, I've become decidedly unhappy with that, and have been taking steps to change it. So far, so good. I started writing my book, which is a good one, and will help teachers. I teach at the University part-time, for extra money and fodder for my book. I make and sell soap for pocket money.

And then it happened: my school district hired a lawyer to be the new superintendent.

I thought about it, and thought about it, and it came to me the other day: This is just the thing that we disillusioned, disenfranchised teachers have been talking about. Two of the candidates had education backgrounds, and strong credentials. Who did the school board pick? The dude with no education experience whatsoever. Just another example of how education backgrounds aren't valued in our society.

And then I thought some more. With our last superintendent, I emailed him with reports of my personal anguish regarding my financial situation. I thought to myself, "Self, email him. Let him know what he's in for."

Okay. So I did. In my email, fully expecting no response whatsoever, I nominated myself as Chief Academic Officer for our school district. This is the job that is immediate advisor to the superintendent. One of two Head Honchos. I wrote an email to him, nominating myself for this position. The email I wrote was sincere and straightforward, asking that I be considered for the job, and outlined my credentials and personality traits that make me a good candidate.

Now, I did this to prove a point. My point, in my head, was this: If they can hire someone with no education experience whatsoever to run a school district, then they damn well better hire an educator for Chief Academic Officer. And if they rejected me, as I fully expected them to, they had better have a reason better than "lack of experience."

So I sent the email, fully expecting no response whatsoever. The new superintendent had been at work for all of, oh, say, 3 days. I guessed at what his email address would be, knowing the format for our district emails. I sent it off, and thought to myself, "Good job, self. Now, get back to all that work you do."

Which I did. For exactly 33 minutes. Which is when my email rang.

Yep. It was the superintendent. I blinked. I couldn't believe it. He actually read my email. Furthermore, he actually seemed to take it seriously. He informed me that the job had been posted online with a job description, and if I was still interested, he HOPED I would apply.

He hoped? Hoped I would apply? Did that mean he actually read my email? Did that mean he actually thought my argument had merit, counsel?

At this point, I realized what I'd gotten myself into. If he took it seriously, which he must have if he wrote me back, then that meant I would have to take it seriously.

So I thought and thought. And thought some more.

And that's when I thought about my comfort zone, and why it might be a good idea to push out of it. How great people have always taken some sort of risk. How I hate hypocrisy, and how I should carry through with this, if I started it. I also thought about the transfer process last spring, and how disheartening it was to have thoughtless jerks dismiss me out-of-hand and not even read my resumé, because they saw I taught Special Education. I thought that, maybe, with the transfer process, I was shooting too low.

So I did it. I applied for the job, for real, online. My cover letter was the email I sent to the dude initially, with modifications outlining my agenda.

Who knew I have an agenda?

Apparently, I do. And apparently, after thinking and thinking about this, I've realized something about myself:

I would be INCREDIBLE at that job.


  1. Anonymous7:42 AM

    So far, the New Guy seems okay. Only time will tell.

    Apparently we work for the same organization...and in the same specialized area. Weird, huh?


  2. Not weird at all! We gravitate toward each other, all over. You recognize talent when you see it. :) applying for CAO, too? Shall we place a bet to see if they even call me to let me know they think I stink?

  3. Anonymous11:05 AM

    I'd love to see you get the position! And if you do, I'd also love to ride your coattails to a big office up on the 7th floor.

    Seriously, though, you'd be great. You have over a decade "in the trenches," and your writing skills are outstanding.

    Hope you're enjoying the Summer a wee bit. I'm busy working on the new student information system. Luckily for you (or unluckily?) the IEP process/program will remain pretty much the same, at least for the first semester.

  4. Thank you for the support! I had no idea the teachers out there would actually want "one of their own" up on teh 7th floor. Please send my blog to all the teachers you know...let's see if they would all support this decision. :)