On the 1st Day of Your New Job

On the 1st day of your new job:

  • You will be wearing a crisp, professional suit and stand out in a crowd of shorts and t-shirts.  No biggie.  It’s better to make a good 1st impression.
  • You will need a Venti because you didn’t sleep the night before…preparing for said outfit.
  • You will try to resist, without success, comparing everything to your last job.
  • Your eyes will glaze over from information overload at some point.
  • You will wonder why you didn’t move on sooner.

It was a tough decision, but North Virginia has won us over!  At the start of the summer, I had put in applications all over the country – or at least, anywhere we had family members.  I was quickly hired by an international school in Washington DC.  But a week later, I was hired by a gifted program in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  A week after that, I was offered a job at a middle school in the country’s best school district.  I went back and forth and lost plenty of sleep…DC would be exciting but very little difference from NYC.  NC would be a stark difference from NYC, but politics and extra licensure work presented a challenge.

So, here we are in the perfect median.  North Virginia – it’s not NYC and it’s not the boonies.  It’s 4.5 hours from our family in New York and 4.5 hours from our family in Chapel Hill.  It’s city and woods, ritzy yet down to earth, far away from it all and yet a pretty little drive to so much!

I am doing something I never thought I’d do, however, and that is teach in an affluent neighborhood.  I always thought my talents were best suited for inner city kids.  I figured wealthy kids don’t need a teacher like me – they would be successful with or without me. My thinking has completely changed thanks to the work I did while applying for the position in Chapel Hill.

The Principal gave me this challenge:  design a lesson/unit that would make wealthy, gifted, American children aware of their privilege and empathetic to current issues.  Where do I even begin with something like that? As I thoughtfully prepared a unit on injustice, I realized that children everywhere need a teacher like me…and I’m not just tooting my own horn here.  Children everywhere need to be more aware of their privilege and empathetic to today’s issues.  I’ve always taught global citizenship to help unify my diverse student population.  That’s not going to really change…if there’s any hope for this world, it’s young people who care about people all over the world and who take the lead in positive changes.

At orientation this week, the Principal made two statements that reassured me that I had made the right decision.

1 – “We are a service administration.  We are here to serve you.  You don’t work for us, we work for you.”

2 – “We don’t expect you to be here until 8 pm every night, although I know some of you will be here late many times.  I believe in priorities and mine our God, family, and then work.  Your priorities should be the same.

I wanted to applaud but I didn’t, of course, because I’d look like a kiss-ass.  I feel like a refugee being welcomed into the arms of a warm, loving family.  It’s a completely different vibe from what I had in New York.  Which leads me to the next, shocking statement:

3 – “We have plenty of money, so if you need anything, just ask.  Don’t go spending your own money!