I can’t remember the exact moment that I decided to become a special education teacher. I do remember being interested in the subject, applying the material learned like it was second nature, and being able to retain information pertaining to the field far better than other topics.
After announcing my decision to my parents, my selfish 18 year old self was shocked when my mother said I was following in her foot steps. Recalling the foggy detail that my mother obtained her degree in special education, allowed me to realize that I wasn’t the center of the universe, and more relevant to my point, that teaching appeared to run in the family.
Although teaching came very naturally to me, I very nearly didn’t become a teacher. Working full time, getting married way too young, changing universities, getting a divorce, and moving 3 times made school especially difficult. Luckily, I had some amazing advisors at the University of Utah who helped me gain a few extensions on project deadlines. It made all the difference!
In the end, I was the first person in my cohort with a job. A poorly paying job. A whole $29,000 a year! But hey, that’s teaching, right? My prior experience working in a youth residential treatment facility, managing staff at an adult women’s rehabilitation clinic, and providing one-on-one applied behavioral analysis training to a 2 year old, gave me a slight edge over other new graduates.
I loved that job. And I put everything I had into it. I often fell asleep after dinner because I was so exhausted that first year. Then my second husband (Did I mention I got married again?), got into The Ohio State University and we packed it up and moved to Columbus! In Columbus I learned, “don’t drink the charter school juice too hard,” teaching in inner city schools is not for the faint of heart, and being a special education teacher supervisor was my jam.
Two years later I had a baby girl, my dream job as a supervisor at a private education company (The Learning Spectrum), and a husband who was unsure if he wanted to go into academia anymore. That threw everything for a loop, and I pledged my support in his endeavor to find his dream job.
Well… his dreams took us to a software developer bootcamp here in North Carolina. And I worked here until he was done. While I made my highest salary in North Carolina (a whole $38,000 after 4 years of working in the field), I ended up taking a hiatus from teaching. After paying for childcare, and factoring in all of the additional hours the schools in NC required, I decided to teach privately for a time.
Today, we are gearing up for another move to Pennsylvania. My old stomping grounds! And I am pumped for the opportunity to start teaching again. Except I have hit a few snags.
First, I did not pay close enough attention to my license here in North Carolina and it lapsed. North Carolina says on their website that they do not renew an initial license. So I am still researching what to do with that. Second, Pennsylvania does not accept my license anyways because they require special education teachers to have a general education field of study (such as early childhood, K-4, art, music, etc.).
Either way you look at it, I will have to take some classes or go back to school. Worst case scenario, I am looking at another 30 credit hours of classes. While I can accept that I shouldn’t have let my license lapse, this whole process is ridiculous.
So here I am. Now it’s time to decide if I am willing to plunge more money into a career that will barely pay back the loan money. Stay tuned to see what happens from here!