Friday, October 19, 2012

Life-changers. Love 'em or hate 'em?

Another registration is upon us, this time for the upcoming Spring 2013 semester at school.

Should be sounding great, right?  Full of excitement?  Another semester down?  One step closer to that coveted Bachelors degree in Homeland Security?

Yeah, not so much.

Last Spring was a life-changer, too.  I decided at the 11th hour to drop the classes I'd paid for out of pocket because I thought teaching was proving to be "too much of a pain in the ass."  Not the teaching aspect itself, but getting my foot in the door in order to complete the required observations in order to enter the bachelors program.

For a field who claims they are jonesing for good teachers, trying to get in to observe a teacher in action is akin to finding a pink unicorn:  it just wasn't happening.  I told them my availability ("anytime!"), I filled out their required paperwork.  I've never had so much as a speeding ticket, plus I am already approved as a volunteer for the county school system, so where is the problem?  How hard should it be to go to a school, have someone at the front desk make a phone call to a random teacher ("hey, I have so and so here, can she observe your classroom for an hour?"), and buzz me in?

Not so much.  Instead, I felt like a leper.  Call this person.  Leave a voicemail.  Two weeks later, she calls back to leave me a voicemail.  In the meantime, I've already had two observations due.  The teacher or class I'd requested to observe (in one instance, I had to observe two hours of media lab), well that assignment was due last Friday, thanks for getting back to me.

So I changed majors.  I'd had enough of teaching, I said.  I'd had enough of jumping through hoops and the system working against me.  I'll use my prior military experience and go into Homeland Security.  I'll do something high-speed.  High-speed with high(er than a teacher) pay.  Yeah, that'll show 'em.

I'm 30 credits in, and I don't like it.

The whole program seems geared on law enforcement.  90% of my peers in class are already in law enforcement.  Another 5% are taking the degree in order to enter the military.  Which leaves me with a guy who is partially disabled and taking classes so as not to go stir crazy at home, and a girl whose husband is in the Coast Guard and she wants to get a civilian job on base.

No shit.  Everyone else is a cop.

I think being a police officer is an incredibly noble idea.  That being said, however, I am 38 years old.  You do the math.  Those that joined the department right out of high school are getting ready to retire.  Who in the hell is going to accept me for the academy?  Being a police detective requires 2-5 years on patrol and I'm sorry but my days or nights of waking up and getting dressed to go chase bad guys on foot probably passed about 15 years ago.

I don't want to be a patrol officer.  I love those who are, I'm thankful for them every day, but imagine starting over at 38.  Not pretty.

Plus, the biggest secret?  I miss the idea of teaching.

Not only do I miss it, I ache about it.  When Richard and I went to Aidan's Open House for 3rd grade a few weeks ago, I sat in that well-lit, colorful classroom, I sat in that teeny tiny desk, and I realized I'd made a huge mistake.  My heart is in teaching.  It's what I was supposed to do.  It's what I am supposed to do.

So how do I get there?

Good question.

Florida has a certification program for people with a bachelors degree who want to teach--or at least they did when there was a teacher shortage a few years ago.  As for my county, a recent update to the website states that they are no longer participating and/or accepting teachers who simply have their certification:  they want teachers who have majored in education.

For me, this would mean starting over in the spring with the exact same schedule I had and dropped last spring.  It would mean not getting into the actual bachelors in Education program until next summer.  Then it would mean another two years of school in order to earn the degree.

As it stands, I'm down to one more year of my GI Bill.

What to do, what to do, what to do?  I'm stuck.  Today, I am making a phone call to a woman who used to run the Alternative Certification for Teacher program here in my county and see what she recommends.  I'm torn.  I'd love to hear from teachers or those in law enforcement regarding this situation to find out what you recommend.  What are the odds that, at 39 years old (once I have my degree), I will be able to find work in Homeland Security-slash-law enforcement?  What are the odds that I can become a teacher with a non-education major?  Registration for the spring semester is Monday, and I feel like there are two doors:  Will it be the Lady or the Tiger?


Stay tuned.    :)