Archive | October, 2014

The Return of Elizabelle…

23 Oct

Amusingly, if you look at the date of the post just prior to this one, it doesn’t look like I’ve been gone that long.  But it’s been 2 years!  Yes. I am back from a two year hiatus. I was really tired? I forgot how to write? I was on a secret mission to Jupiter? Take your pick.

So what brings me back to the blogging world? After all; I didn’t return when Clark became a big brother to Edison on my freaking birthday in 2013. I didn’t return when I made the conscious decision to give up my limited free time and work with the youth ministry again. I didn’t return when my first biological niece (Bellagrace: she gorgeous!) was born last May and I didn’t return when I had the best summer in over a decade. So why now?

Because of timing. Specifically God’s timing. Last spring and early summer I interviewed at 10 schools for jobs. TEN. I interviewed for just about everything; high school history, middle school history, middle school language arts, 5th and 6th grade social studies, 5th grade social studies and writing and a “what do I have to lose” shot at an instructional specialist position. I didn’t get any of them. I got 10 interviews, but couldn’t close the deal on a single one. I was pretty crushed. Some of the rejections were a lot harder to take than others. I joked that God was probably like, “Seriously, stop interviewing! You aren’t going anywhere!”  But there was a whole other part of me that felt like I needed to persevere and keep trusting that the right job was out there. And it was. It just wasn’t the job I expected.

About 2 months ago I started my 9th year at Northbrook Middle School. I can’t believe  going to say this, but I am so glad I am there. From the beginning of inservice week I could feel that something was different, but I wasn’t sure what it was. I think it was Wednesday of the first week of school when all of a sudden I realized… My attitude was so different! Gone were the days of being frustrated by a student’s lack of English proficiency. All of a sudden I took every opportunity available to TRY to speak to them in Spanish. I found myself googling phrases that I didn’t know in Spanish so that I could tell a kid how proud I was of his hard work or how much i appreciated the risk she took to answer a question in class. I found myself going above and beyond to reach every kid. Y’all this is not how I ran my classroom before. Now it’s 2 months later. I have made parent phone calls to moms who only speak Spanish without a translator. I have attended so many trainings on strategies for reaching our ELL kids. My students have invented a thing they call “Ms Clark’s word of the day”. This is where they teach me a new Spanish word every day and I have to use it 5 times before the end of the day.  My vocabulary is so much bigger than before!

It’s funny; while I was in Spain this past summer I found myself wishing I knew more Spanish and wanting to be able to talk to the parents on drop off and pick up days. I’ve always been someone who tries to speak the language when I am traveling.  I don’t ever want to be an obnoxious American tourist, so here I was in Spain, and I can’t really talk to the people.  It made me feel so uneducated…. actually that isn’t accurate.  I’ve had 3 years of high school Spanish and 2 years of college Spanish.  I am not “uneducated”, I am “woefully deficient”!  Anyway, then I marveled at my hypocrisy.  Yes, these were different kids, and yes they came from a totally different culture than my little Central and South American kids, but HOW was I that concerned over communicating with these kids who had been in my life for less than a week, and I’ve never given the kids and parents here at school the time of day when it comes to knowing Spanish?   I realized that my attitude had been really poor for several years.  Yes, the behaviors had been atrocious in those years, but that didn’t excuse my apparent apathy toward them.  So I have to give a little bit of credit to that trip.  I’d like to think I would have come to the realization anyway, but who knows for sure.  It was definitely the beginning of the turn in my attitude and for that I am so grateful.

But it’s more than the language.  I somehow genuinely care more for the kids.  I think that I really believed that I cared about them before and certainly on some level I really did, but not as fully as I do now.  I am so much more patient with the kids.  When I am frustrated I am handling things much better.  This is seriously one of the biggest answers to prayer I have ever seen in my life. I keep waiting for the adrenaline to wear off and it just doesn’t.  I knew that God had a reason for keeping me at Northbrook; He had to have!  With all the opportunities that were set before me and all the doors that were blatantly closed I knew that this was going to be big.  But this experience has been beyond my wildest of expectations.  I am so thankful.

Now, I still think that my time to move on is coming, but there is no denying that this is where I needed to be this year!