Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Working Girl Down the Shore

'A Working Girl in...'  is a post written by a contributing writer that appears on Working Girl twice a month. This week's post was written by a Working Girl living on the Jersey Shore about her decision to become a teacher despite her background in Communication. 


I'm not your conventional Working Girl who lives in a big city. I don't wear posh clothes or pointy heels every day to work. I don't do Starbucks runs or make photocopies for my "way too into herself" boss. 

In fact, my daily activities are the exact opposite. I live in a small town down the Jersey Shore. I wear button-downs and flats to work everyday. I make frequent visits to my purse for my Advil bottle and the only photocopies I'm making are for my 25 screaming students since I'm a teacher.

Teaching was not always included in my life plan. In college I was a Communication major from day one - a major that was mostly full of lacrosse players and preppy girls with pearls and matching drug problems. Communication was also known as the 'easy way out' at our college. My roommates joked that I never had a class before noon and that I wrote papers probably once every two months. Unlike my fellow classmates, I took my major seriously. Well, kind of (and apparently not as seriously as WG1). 

At first, I truly did want a career in Communication with the goal being to work for a television station or maybe even in the movie business. However, I ended up taking easy classes with professors who were closer in age to me than my parents. I was basically the Shawn Hunter of my friends (minus the leather jacket and the minor detail of not living in a trailer). 

Fast forward to summer after junior year (also known as my "Gimp Year" because of an injury I sustained on a muddy hill after my team took gold in Beer Olympics) when I interned for CBS Radio in Times Square. I liked the work, (some of) the people, and the grown-up feeling I got as I pushed my way through screaming Paris Hilton fans as I made my way into the MTV building. 

However, everyday I got on the crowded train, I felt more and more guilty.  The money my parents were spending to make me a ‘businesswoman’ was going down the drain. I didn’t want to do this the rest of my life. I realized I wanted to do what I dreamed of since I was a little girl - and that was being a teacher. 

So after graduation, as WG2 moved in with my family and began her job as an assistant three days after we left college (did I mention that WG1 & WG2 are two of my best friends?), I started taking online courses to become a teacher, spent my days at the pool, and waited by the window for WG2 to pull into the driveway at seven every night. By not having a job right out of college, I had become the rebel of the family. 

I stuck with my courses to become a teacher though and in the fall I completed an accelerated nine-month program to become a K-5 Elementary and Special Education Teacher.  It was the hardest nine months of my life (but I've never been pregnant so I assume that has to be worse). I took 30 credits per semester while student-teaching my ass off in a small rural town for one of the toughest classes in the school. Think third graders making suicide threats, stabbing one another with pencils, and students losing their best friends in drive-by accidents. Even though I don't live in New York City, it still felt like it sometimes this year.

Even through all the "but Mom, I don't wanna go to school tomorrow" tears on Sunday nights and partying way too hard on Saturday nights (Fridays are just too exhausting), I made it through and became a certified teacher.  This summer, along with enjoying my time away from the kids (I think I deserve it), I am taking courses toward my Masters and should be finished by December. 

Sometimes I get jealous of my friends and their glam lifestyles in the city, but I will never regret my decision to go back to school and follow my childhood dream. And even though I will never make big money and I'll probably have to live with my parents until I get hitched, I still get my summers off (you know you're jealous). 

13 comments:

Bayjb said...

Don't ever regret going back to fulfill your dream. Just because your friends have the "glam" life, that doesn't mean it's that great under the surface.

Pam said...

Way to go! A teaching and a Masters? That's amazing! Good luck with everything

It's times like these I wish I could be a teacher...who cares that I get grossed out by kids, probably would get annoyed when kids wouldn't "get" something and still act like a kid myself most most of time...I just want my summers off.

And sidenote: Comm was a really tough and time-intensive major...with other majors you can look stuff up in books and write about it, but with Comm (advertising in my case), you have to come up with crazy creative ideas out of nowhere and then execute them in a million different ways to reach certain people...

Ok I'll get off my soapbox now. Apparently I am still defensive. :)

well-intentioned heartbreaker said...

awe. now that is awesome. happiness > money. always! plus i'm forever jealous of teachers for having summers off..

Kim said...

So what if you aren't living that glitz and glamour? I've always believed that teaching special ed was the most rewarding venture into life I ever made. Kudos to you. :-)

Anonymous said...

Do you really like teaching? What advice do you have for someone who is still in college and is thinking about pursuing a career in teaching?

Andrea said...

Teaching is so much more work than I ever imagined, but it's the best decision I've made so far in my life. It takes over your life and you find yourself talking with other teachers at CVS or the Nail place about field trips and standardized testing. BUT, there is nothing better than watching the kids master something. Like when they learn how to read or when they finally understand multiplication. It's awesome. Plus, they are hysterical and will tell you anything (including details about their parents "hugging" at night..true story)

Douchegirl said...

I loved the "Boy Meets World" reference. I also thought about becoming a teacher, but decided against it. I don't have the patience.

Lyla Lou said...

Awww, I'm so jealous!! I want the summer off. Loved the post!

JK said...

I'm also a teacher currently enjoying my summer off! I wouldn't trade it for the glam job either even when my over-hormonal middle school students are throwing fits or crying.

Beer Olympics? WOO HOO!

Cupcakes and Cashmere said...

ah to work by the jersey shore...that sounds SO lovely!

GMan said...

two things. one - loved the shawn hunter reference. and two - I am absolutely jealous that you get summers off.

Maxie said...

30 credits? whoa! I could barely handle 18.

Sassy Molassy said...

A teacher's schedule is ideal. I love the fact that my mom is a teacher because as we are growing up we always got to have mom around all summer while dad had to work. Because of that we got to spend a lot of time doing fun things and going on trips when we might otherwise be stuck at home or with a babysitter. Your friends in the city may just feel a little jealous of you.

Way to go on the whole Master's degree!