Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Dispatch from the road…. Above Hudson Bay: Just a Teacher Job Fair??

Monday, February 4, 2008

I just took flight out of Chicago about 2 hours ago. It was a very rough take off and it was peacefully interrupted by a flash of light and a big boom just to my left. The captain of this United flight assured us that it was “just” a strike of lightening and that they had checked all of the systems and “they are working properly” . I guess we really have no choice but to take his word for it. After all, I am at 31000 feet above the floor of our dear earth, and he is the one at the helm or the computer that he is in charge of is in guiding our way. For those of you out there who have not had the deep and spiritual experience of flying over this part of the world and being able to see Hudson Bay below you, I will try to describe:

Below me is a vast expanse of white ice. From here it seems as if there is no snow, but just ice covered with just a skiff of snow. The ice stretches beneath me to the right and left (east and west) as far as I can see,. The ice is not flat and just white. It appears to be the skin of our earth, pure and white with veins of blue blood flowing beneath us. The heartbeat of our home flows in each vein and the sun shines deep below the ice to depths that cannot be described and I trust that I will never explore in my mortal lifetime I think about the creatures that live there and I trust that they are happy, finding food and living their lives as if they were me sitting on a warm beach somewhere. I suppose life can be struggle or a fight or a series of small challenges that make each of us better and stronger, but does not kill us. If some creature lives down there, I hope that the ice is their beach. This time of year, the bay is ice and life continues on, in Churchill, or wherever one lives.

Just a Teacher Job Fair???
I have never been so glad to see Iowa. I landed without much fanfare in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA yesterday afternoon after a 3-day journey that was mostly spent in a hotel room in Chicago. I did a lot of time on the phone with my parents, and my family and with teachers fearing that I would not make it to Waterloo, Iowa. I made it finally and spoke to them all, but alas the one couple that really had trust I would make it was the only ones I ended up hiring. A nice young couple of soon-to-be newlyweds who will marry this summer and begin their married life in Shanghai. Kind of like Amanda Lynn and me back a few years ago.

I spent about 45 minutes with them in my hotel room and just knew that they were right for us and we for them. I offered the invitation, rolled out the benefits and sent them on their way to give me their answer the next day. My exact words were “I won’t let you answer now. I need to know that I have teachers who will not only give us their heads and their experiences, but also their hearts. We need dedicated teachers who be a part of the SAS community and focus on the school for the next 2 years, while we hope that you will give us 4 years.” In the end they jumped in with both feet and I know they will be my colleagues and friends for longer than just 4 years. I almost feel like these job fairs are where I go and collect friends and supporters for my life and career. It reminds me of a night in New York...

I had been “recruiting” a couple out of Alaska for sometime. I was in Saudi and scanning the databases for ISS and Search like there was no tomorrow. I needed to find some teachers! Recruiting was tough there. Nobody wanted to come our litte dirtball town and I needed a music teacher and a solid, talented HS English teacher. I dropped about 30 emails out to a few folks and got a nibble here and there, but was drawn to a couple out of some school district in Alaska. Go figure. In the process found a teaching couple interested in me and our little dirtball town in Saudi Arabia. They were from Alaska. We wrote back and forth a while and agreed to meet in New York City. The job fair before was wash with me finding nothing and fighting off a bad cold the whole time. My throat was about to explode and I slept and slept and worked through the pain.

The next job fair was better and I reveled in the sight of Martha’s Vineyard below me in the winter sea buoyed my spirits as I flew south and landed in “the city” and began my quest for someone to bring my music program to life again. I me the couple briefly at signup and got them to my hotel room to interview. This is the time I won’t forget….

Into my room walked a tall, regal and intelligent woman. She seemed to be as tall as I am with penetratingly beautiful eyes that reflected her intelligence and focus. Her style reflected her experiences and her heritage and yet I suspected a twinge of fear and trepidation. She obviously new her musical “stuff” well. Her husband was bundle of energy. Positive vibes were emanating from him as he talked about his students his experiences as a special education teacher and a classroom teacher. I hesitate to say this but…. I fell in love. In the end, I encourage my superintendent and he agreed to let me take them on in Yanbu. Their references assured me I would not be sorry. They were right.

Alicia and Andy…. Where are you now? When are we going to do this again?

The same thing happened in Iowa this weekend. A couple of emails and a few reference checks lead me to know that James and Sanna are also great fits for my school. I, like them, took the leap in trusting each other and knowing that each of us will hold the other accountable. In the end the students will be the ones who really benefit.

Is there common sense in all of this? Probably not. My colleague said it best when he stated that it was just like life-- “You just fall in love”. I would agree. You meet the right people and you just know it is right.

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