Geek-turned-Teacher: The New School

2010 was a watershed year for me. It was a year I left a school and a teaching  job I knew was wrong for me. A year, after six long years, when I finally got what I really wanted. Honestly, I knew a high poverty, mostly African-American school was not a long term gig for me: a white, middle class former software developer. In fact, I stayed longer than the three years required, even though I probably mentally checked out two years before. But I stayed partly because I had a fairly easy job and partly because of sheer pride.
So when the opportunity to work at small, mostly white private school closer to my house practically fell in my lap, I jumped at the chance.

Now that I have been at my new school for a half a year, I wanted to look back at how things have changed.
The first culture shock I had was actually at my job interview.  I’ve been on many interviews in my life and I thought I was ready for anything.  Thinking back many years ago, I remember a particularly rough group interview where the interviewers asked me the question, “Mr. Meyers, is there a programming language you do NOT like?”  My response: “Well, I really don’t like COBOL.”  Long pause.  “Mr. Meyers, do you realize that most of the programming we do here is in COBOL?”  Oops.  Anyway, I went into this interview ready with my standard answers.  Turns out, I didn’t need them.  It didn’t feel like an interview at all.  It felt like a conversation with old friends as we discussed educational philosophies.  They had read my blog and wanted my opinions on education and technology.  I wasn’t used to this treatment.  I was used to being browbeaten, ignored, and treated like a child.  This was refreshing.  They had me at “we don’t have discipline problems” and “you don’t have to write IEPs.”  My final interview with the head of school was even more shocking.  For one thing, she hugged me.  Never in my life have I ever been hugged by my boss, much less someone who had not even hired me yet.  This simple act was the beginning of a feeling of family I had never felt in any organization in my entire working life.  I had been so used to distrust and distance that I was completely overwhelmed.  She even called me a role model because of my choice to become a teacher in spite of my speech impediment.  Was this too good to be true?  When I got the job offer and it was less than my current salary, I didn’t blink.  There are some things money just can’t buy.



1 Comment

  1. Mark, you manage to make me laugh and cry at the same time. You’re an excellent writer!

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