Here we are at the end of another week and the beginning of the weekend! The story below is my contribution to Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday. As a writer of poetry, Kellie’s writing prompts have afforded me the opportunity to write outside the poetic box. Thank you, Kellie! The writing prompt for this Friday . . ..
I was born to teach. I knew that from the time it was even possible to know life carried with it a special purpose. Even my baby dolls were my ‘students’ and when in school, I always volunteered to teach a lesson whenever the opportunity arose. Never minded getting in front of the class and welcomed the challenges when questions were asked. Sometimes my classmates would come to me to explain a math concept because they simply did not understand the teacher. Math – that was my favorite, just like my granddaddy!
Upon graduation from college, of course, I got my first ‘real’ job as a classroom teacher. Oh, dear, the position entailed teaching physics, chemistry, physical science, geometry and general math. Did I ever get my feel wet in a hurry! Here I was barely 21 years old and some of my students were approaching 18! At the end of that first year, of course, I looked for a different position, one which did not require five preparations!
I taught for four years undergoing quite a number of changes in my life that led me to make a move to another state. Requirements were different, certification was different and the pay was definitely different, much less than I needed (Notice the word need, perhaps a better word would be wanted.) Anyway, a position was found that kept me struggling just to keep up with rent/utilities on an apartment and a car payment. At least it wasn’t too far from ‘home’ and I could make a quick trip for food and staples. Nothing like Mama’s cooking and Daddy would always slip me a five dollar bill to help with gas. That five dollars went a LONG way back in the late 60s and early 70s!
Anyway, to the crossroads. . .Teaching was going great and my classes were relatively good. There were always war stories and the classes from hell but that goes with the territory. I was living alone and barely getting by with nothing, absolutely nothing, to carry over from month to month. New clothes were a thing of the past and thrift stores were looking more and more promising. Then, entered the possibility of a roommate. . .
With this roommate came the beginning of a new career that would have never, ever crossed my mind. I was a teacher. That’s all I knew, teaching. My education prepared me to teach. The ubiquitous they say that money is the root of all evil but when I found out she made in one week what I brought home in one month that looked pretty good to me. Evil thoughts went out the window; survival was at the top of the list.
So began the career with the Bayline Railroad in Dothan, AL. Diesel engines, wood racks, box cars, open hoppers, consists and waybills were the tools of the trade now, no more daily lesson plans, in-service meetings, state standards, books, compasses, rulers, and protractors. Instead of walking those hallowed halls, I would now be walking the railroad tracks, climbing on and off railroad cars that needed to be waybilled to their next destination. The sad part was that this job did not require a college education where with teaching the minimum was a four-year degree. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this was just the beginning of a new teaching era that lay a decade ahead.
I could have chosen to stay in teaching for that was the field in which I felt prepared or I could take the road less traveled and take a chance on something different. The Lord works in mysterious ways and had it not been for the decision to leave education for the railroad industry, I would not have gained the real-world experience so necessary for effective mathematics teaching in the future nor would I have met my soul mate. Had I stayed on the narrow path I started I would have probably ended up back home living with my parents, making lesson plans, grading papers and feeling secure in my teaching abilities but never fulfilling my potential or walking through windows of opportunity that I did not know awaited but He did.
Be sure to read the poem, An Echo from Yester Year.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever taken that road less travelled?