Applying to a private school was something I said I would never do. I grew up in public school (until college) and saw value in the education and experience I had. Private school teaching (although it is in line with my faith) went against my philosophy of why I want to teach, bringing hope and love to students who may not get it elsewhere.
In San Diego, I worked in a tough urban area. It was literally down the street from a well-known intersection called “The four corners of death”. Child protective service agents were in and out of our doors weekly. We had class pets…cockroaches (yuck!). Some students lived in hotels, some came to school on the city bus or in a cab, and rarely was education something to be valued.
This is what drew me to teaching.
I wanted to show love and hope, and invest in lives that many deemed “a lost cause”. This was way more difficult than I ever anticipated. I went through an exhausting year filled with poorly behaved students, a severe lack of support from my administration, and ultimately a feeling of inadequacy in my abilities to be an effective teacher. Fortunately, I had the support of Ninja when I came home. He’d often prepare dinner so I didn’t have to, he’d listen as I cried over my exhausting day, he’d take me out on dates to de-stress, or he’d just fill the bathtub and give me time to relax.
In my job hunt last spring, I was ready to apply for any and every teaching job available. (Teaching jobs aren’t necessarily in surplus right now. This is how I ended up in my current private school job)
The good news is, in the last 3 months of teaching, I have come home from school crying only twice (and once was because I missed San Diego). I get positive feedback and encouragement from my principal and coworkers, the students’ parents are involved and supportive, and I was even given a stipend to help cover costs associated with setting up a new classroom. Until this year, I never realized how neat it is to teach students about the depth of God’s love for them. I get to incorporate God into all aspects of our day. Obviously, this wasn’t allowed when I taught public school. It is such a gift to see the faith of a child, and to experience their forgiving and deep love. Two years of teaching kindergarten, and two totally different experiences.
It seems like a no-brainer; I am so much better off emotionally this year, right?! But let’s not forget I started teaching to make a difference. I have a heart for kids that are in need of hope and love – kids like those in my San Diego classroom. Instead, I am working in a place where most of my kids come from supportive and loving homes, homes where parents are more financially and emotionally invested in their child’s education. Amidst this environment, I have found ways to help, shape, and influence my 20 five-year olds in practical ways. I am learning that I can still make a difference, just in a different way than in public schools.
As the year goes on, I will be faced with the decision of sticking with my lower paying private school job ($10,000 less than public school position) where I am supported and have a better work/life balance, or stepping back into the less stable public school system so I can meet the needs of those who need it most. I still don’t know what I’m going to do.
Ninja’s thoughts: As GN mentioned, she had a very difficult year in San Diego and often came home extremely upset. This year, she has had a much more positive experience. I’m torn. Honestly I could care less about the pay difference. It has been awesome having Girl Ninja come home, excited about teaching, and with plenty of energy to enjoy the rest of the evening. But another part of me, wants to encourage her to give public school another shot. As she stated she wants to “bring hope and love to students who may not get it elsewhere.” We both also agree that the majority of her ill feelings towards public school are probably the result of a lack of support from her Principal (who actually got demoted at the end of the school year) and administration and not from the “challenging” students. She’s got a heart for public school, but has thoroughly enjoyed private school. How the heck do I help her make a decision!?
What are your thoughts on public school? What about private? Any advice for us?