I am not a failure. I am a survivor.

I am not a failure. I am a survivor.

Sometimes your work is not a good fit. Sometimes you think it is a big challenge. How do you recognize the difference? Now, I know the secret.

I had been working in an elite private school in Nicaragua for a decade. There was one computer lab and no other technology. No promethean board and no internet. I returned to the U.S. knowing I had a large learning curve and needing employment.

I applied to the local school board office. I was informed that my application had been accepted, however, there was a hiring freeze. Fortunately, I was asked to teach as a fifth grade substitute until a decision had been made to open another fifth grade class. This position did develop into full time. I was filled with enthusiasm. I was so grateful to be employed.  I knew the worst students from each class would be assigned to me. What I did not know was that 3 of them were from the behavioral adjustment school and five of them were between the ages of 12 and 15.

I stayed at my teaching position in the public school for three years. It contained students from the lower economic status. I was amazed at the 27 passwords for all of the computer programs that I collected at the first faculty meeting. I had plenty to learn about technology. I also had much to learn about what happens at a public school.  I had no idea of the possible problems looming ahead until I saw that some of the students were taking razors out of their pencil sharpeners to “get” other students. My eyes were further opened as I watched a student take a sharpened pencil and puncture his own arm so that he could tell his mom I committed the action. Luckily, I had met the mom several times and she did not believe him. I was undaunted. I do not fail.

It was a serious struggle, but I was very determined. At the end of my third year, two people approached me to ask how I could stay so positive. I was crumbling inside, but there was no way I was going to sink into the depths of negativity. At the end of the year, I was called into the principal’s office and told to prepare a packet containing my reading methods. I was to present them at the first faculty meeting of the following year. At the same time, I was told that I would not be receiving any daily support from the reading specialist as my scores were so high. It was an interesting meeting. I did not quite know what to think.

Do I stay or do I go? I live in a small town where available teaching positions in private schools are very limited. I decided that I would continue at the public school. How much worse could it possibly be? The first week of the new school year resulted in a new decision. Not one student sent to me had received an IEP (plan of intervention). It was obvious this group of students trumped every other class I had ever received. I resigned within a week. I later found out that 12 out of 18 of the students were given an IEP. That would have meant months of documentation and tons of emotional turmoil as I tried to help them.

I now work at a school that is … words cannot describe the pleasure and joy I feel everyday as I prepare for work. Every day is filled with joy and celebration. Every day I wake to play. Now, I know that I cannot save the world. I am not invincible. I am beginning to learn the difference between a challenge and an unattainable goal. Now, I do understand that I am not a failure. I am a survivor.


8 thoughts on “I am not a failure. I am a survivor.

  1. Lori March 14, 2015 at 2:03 am Reply

    I’m glad you survived. Going to work each day to play is the best!


  2. Colleen March 14, 2015 at 2:11 am Reply

    Thank you for sharing such an interesting, thought provoking post. I wonder how many others have dealt with situations like yours. I am glad you found a place where you feel you can make a difference.


  3. eloularson March 14, 2015 at 2:19 am Reply

    Always hard to know which decision will be best. I’m sure you’ve learned and grown from each teaching experience and inspired students in all those years as well. Way to be a survivor.


  4. sarahfrelix March 14, 2015 at 2:44 am Reply

    This is encouraging to hear. Thank you for sharing your story. I can relate : )


  5. LibraryDragon March 14, 2015 at 2:50 am Reply

    You are wise. The second question I am asking after hearing your story. What was the administration trying to achieve? Cut a program? Remove kids from their school? Just plain mean? You are a survivor.


  6. debbussewitz March 14, 2015 at 2:57 am Reply

    I am glad that you found the fit for you so that you can do what you love.


  7. readsomuch March 14, 2015 at 2:58 am Reply

    I think you are spot-on… survivor not failure. We all must find our niche in the world – not all of us fit into every school or position. Thank you for sharing your story!


  8. margaretsmn March 14, 2015 at 9:39 pm Reply

    What a brave piece of writing! I am so proud of you. You have found the place where you belong. Keep on, my warrior friend!


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