23 January 2005

What's a nice girl like me doing in a job like this?

It was my fate. But I did fight it for a very long time.

I'm a bastard. No, really. My birthparents were unmarried. Bdad was a music teacher and bmom was a classroom teacher at the same elementary school. One thing led to another---I stand as proof of that. Bdad had no desire to marry bmom and she didn't feel like she had an option other than putting me up for adoption and get on with life.

I was adopted by Americans who were living in Canada while a(doptive)dad was getting his PhD in entomology. They eventually moved back to the states, bringing me along. When I was 9, we settled in Alpine, Texas. Adad taught at the university there. Amom worked in the News and Publications office. Teaching might have been encoded by my DNA, but it was adad who inspired me with science.

I went off to college with no clue as to the direction I should take. I was all of 17 and a half. It's no wonder I was clueless. The spring I was to graduate (by now I was just barely 20), I applied to "Teach for America." This is a program which recruits graduates with no teaching credentials to teach in inner cities and rural areas that have a difficult time getting teachers. It was the first year of the program and miraculously enough, I was accepted. I finally had a plan. But Fate does enjoy a good belly laugh now and then (Who doesn't?). I found out I was assigned to teach in East L.A.

Alpine is a small town. People still ride horses down the street. When I was growing up, the closest McDonald's was a three-hour drive. Each way. I had friends who came to school via the longest school bus route in the country: 140 miles roundtrip. There was one radio station (KVLF) which primarily played cowboy music from the '30s and '40s so that the owners didn't have to pay money for royalties.

There was no way I was going to make it in East L.A. I withdrew from Teach from America and a few hours later, I had enrolled in the education program at Sul Ross State University. The rest, as they say, is history.

I can't claim to know even now what I will do when I grow up. I must admit that time keeps marching on and I seem to keep marching back to the classroom. I enjoy my work most days, and perhaps that's the best anyone can say about any job.

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