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Posts Tagged ‘start of school’

“I want to talk to you about your job …” So began a phone call from my Superintendent a couple of weeks ago. The call came late on a Friday afternoon, shortly after we had interviewed for the other 80% technologist position that would be at the K-3 school. The candidate the selection committee had selected was dynamite – friendly, visionary, knowledgeable, with some specific experience that was right in line with district goals. She’d be a great asset to the developing technology team and would be a great fit at that grade level. I was looking forward to working with her and was delighted to later learn she said, “Yes.” (BTW, she starts September 27.)

After having been back at work just a short time, my heart skipped a beat at the Super’s words. My response of, “Oh???” was followed with a, “Oh, your job’s not in jeopardy. I’d like to ask you if you’d consider going full-time.”

I was pleased to hear that my skills and talents would bring good value to the district. I told my boss that I would have to talk with my husband and pray about whether this was the right move for me. The 80% would have given me one day off per week with Bob.

When he arrived home that afternoon, I told him about my phone call. His response was quick. He looked me squarely in the eye and said, “Are you having a good time doing what you are doing?” My eyes immediately filled with happy tears as I replied, “You know I am.” “Well, then,” he said. “There’s your answer.”

I emailed the Super on Sunday after I felt absolutely sure this was what I was to do and realized that the offer could not be finalized till it went before the School Committee the way the move from 60% to 80% had. So that meant sitting tight till Tuesday, September 21, when hiring the new 80% technologist and moving my position to 100% would be on the agenda. I opted to attend the meeting so I could hear any of the discussion and was dumbfounded when the proposal was tabled for Executive Session. OMG, what’s happening?

Although I opted not to stay till the end of the evening, as there were other items that needed to be discussed in Executive Session that might take an extensive period of time, I was delighted to learn the following afternoon that the proposal had passed with no issue.

So, after two years, I have been returned to a full-time teaching position very much like the one I left. But there’s one more piece. My old contract called for 10 extra days every summer to work on reimaging computers and taking care of things that cannot happen during the school year. The new contract calls for 20.

Go figger …. While my story is nothing like the experiences of Job in the Old Testament, like him, I have been restored to more than I had at the beginning.

God’s always full of surprises.

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No matter how slowly it feels time is going through the summer, something happens near the ides of August. For the education community, in general, it is gearing up time for the start of school with opening days occurring from then through the day after Labor Day, depending on the district.

The buildings are usually in major disarray, clutter abounds, there are last-minute registrations, often times unexpected changes in staff, phone calls, papers, meetings, lesson plans, class schedules – an avalanche of activity as a group and as individuals.

In addition to the usual flurry of activity I’m engaged in during the last few days before school starts, my personal avalanche has often involved finalizing getting a job. That happened in 1982 when I was hired during a phone conversation, left for a planned family vacation, and returned the night before the first day of school. It happened in 1993 when I worked for a week without a contract altogether. It happened in 1997 when I had a job but didn’t know where it would be located.

And it is happening again in 2010 as I return to the Kittery School system to take an 80% Technologist position. Oh, yes, I signed a contract back on June 23, but that was for a 60% 7-12 Integrator position working in two buildings, the details not defined at that time.

Fast forward to August 17 when the Superintendent and School Committee restructured the technology department which included eliminating the position of coordinator. My 60% position went to 80% and was to now include grades 4-8 hardware and software support in addition to integration. I’ve been part of a 4-hour meeting assigning roles for this new team (two positions remain unfilled) and prioritizing what MUST be done before the kids come in and what can wait. There’s more work than time, surprise, surprise.

Staff returns to district tomorrow at 7:30 with students arriving on Wednesday, September 1.

It’s been two years since I’ve traveled this road. Some of the road signs have changed since I was last here from a new principal to more students and fewer hours to get the job done. There’s lots more equipment and new software, staff that I don’t know and staff that I know well.

Part of me feels like I’m in Groundhog Day – most of me feels like I’m going home – and that feels wonderful.

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For the second time in my life, I’m sitting in beautiful Castine, Maine, but not as a vacationer sitting down near the water nor cruising on one of the boats moored in the harbor. I’m inside at the Maine Maritime Academy attending a four-day conference relative to the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI for short), the one-to-one laptop program that has been in existence since 2002. My first training conference must have been in 2003. Now, like then, I am among peers and experts in the field and have much to learn.

For those unfamiliar with the program, MLTI transformed middle level education in the State of Maine by giving each 7th and 8th grader an Apple laptop, installing a wireless network in each building, and providing some exceptional professional development.

Shapleigh Middle School, where I used to work, was selected as one of the nine exploratory sites around the State and received two class sets of laptops a semester before the full rollout in September 2002. In fact, Governor Angus King (the visionary leader who came up with this plan) used Shapleigh for the kickoff of the program. Its location in Kittery (referred to as the “Gateway to Maine”) seemed the logical spot for telling students, “The world will be watching you,” as this was the largest technological implementation ever. I consider my involvement with the program one of the major highlights of my long educational career.

Over the years, Shapleigh played host to educators from other states, a town in Quebec and a delegation from France. Between laptops, a culture of high standards for kids and cooperation and sharing among staff, along with the leadership of Principal, Greg Goodness, the school was given Blue Ribbon status and its administrator was Maine Principal of the Year.

But that’s history. So why is Diana here when her technology job was eliminated two years ago?

It’s simple:

I’ve got a new/old job!

“What’s a ‘new/old’ job?” you ask. The district Advisory Committee for Information Literacy recommended the creation of an integrator position for fall. After two years of providing support with a coordinator, an ed tech, and a technician, the reality that technology was falling behind without someone to facilitate integration. Originally proposed as a K-12 position, funding was authorized at the 60% level. It will be similar to my old job but will not include all the hardware and network responsibilities.

I’ve been away from this world of technology, so I’m feeling a bit rusty. I’ve been away from the conversations in District as well, so I’m not sure what the teacher needs are. I’ve been away from the jargon, so have definitions to learn.

As always, I am not only learning new things but also having to think about how they will be used in the future after I teach them to others. Being learner and integrator is not always easy but is just part of the game. I’m in sponge mode trying to absorb as much as I can to bring back to my colleagues.

Two summers ago, I was 100% unemployed. As summer 2010 comes to a close, that percentage will reduce, though not be completely eradicated.

In some ways I have come full circle.

The long journey ends as a new one begins.

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While January 1 may be the start of a new year and July 1 may be the start of many fiscal years, ever since I started kindergarten at 4 1/2 years of age Labor Day weekend has been the official end of summer. Old habits of beginning class the day after Labor Day die hard.

In 1982 when I went back to full-time high school teaching, I was offered my job in the middle of August with a promise that I would sign my contract after the opening day meetings the day after Labor Day. Eleven years later when that position was subject to a reduction in force (a RIF), August found me in the doldrums as no position had yet been found.

I found myself reminding God that while I didn’t “really” need a job till the day after Labor Day, He could hurry up any time He wanted to. So, what do you think happened? Although I made frequent visits to the lab in Kittery and started teaching classes the last week or so of August, because the school board met only every other week my appointment wasn’t accepted till the day after Labor Day. And God smiled and gave me a wink that all was right with my world.

A year ago this weekend found me very depressed indeed as I was not going back to school. After so many years of my life functioning around Labor Day, I felt completely abandoned. My life was not the same, and I was lost.

Fast forward to August 2009, and there was still no full-time job in my future. My cries were, “God, are you going to have me go through a second Labor Day with no place to be?”

As you know, last Tuesday I began my 8-hour a week position at UNH. While it’s not full-time, God did answer my on-going prayer. The day after Labor Day (literally) will find me in the classroom.

Happy New Year!

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