Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, August 27, 2016

I Always Walked to School, 2

yearbook page from the
Aurora Middle School,
my first year of teaching
Nearly two weeks ago, I posted a piece about the first year I began my teaching career--exactly fifty years ago, the 1966-1967 school year. I'd meant to continue, but Life interrupted (see previous posts), and it's really not been until now that I've been able to get back to this ... so here goes ...

I have written at length about my early teaching years in my memoir--Schoolboy: A Memoir (Kindle Direct, 2012--link to book on Amazon), but I'd like to mention just a few things here about those opening days--that first year.

The most fundamental thing I recall is fear. I was still just twenty-one years old, but I was far from confident. Although (as I wrote previously) I'd had a good time at West Geauga High School with 11th graders (an age and grade I would not teach again, oddly, until 2001), I was very insecure about working with middle schoolers. As I mentioned in my previous post, my supervising teacher at West Geauga HS had sternly advised me to avoid that age level, but there I was ... about to start teaching at a middle school.

I'd been, I confess, a little dilatory about applying for jobs. I'd hoped to go to the University of Kansas to start a Ph.D. in American Studies; I'd been accepted. But then I'd learned they had no money to offer me (not that I really deserved any), and since the only money I had was in my pockets, that took care of Kansas. (I still kinda wish I'd gone--but then, if I had, I never would have met Joyce ...)

So I applied for a job at two schools: James A. Garfield HS in Garrettsville (where my mother had just completed a stellar stint of ten years) and Aurora, which I knew had a fine school system. I got interviews at both places. I don't know if Garfield would have hired me because Aurora called first, and I snapped up the job--even though it would be in, you know, a middle school.

I should add this: Getting a job was easy then. There was a big shortage of teachers around the country, and you really didn't even need to have a teaching certificate to land a job--you could get a "temporary certificate," then go back to school and take the courses you needed. As I think I wrote in Schoolboy, if your breath could steam a mirror, you could get a teaching job.

My dad had helped me find a little apartment in Twinsburg ($75/month)--just about five miles west of Aurora--and had made a down payment on a car for me (a 1965 blue Karmann Ghia--a VW product), and I paid about $60 a month for that hunka junk (oh, did it give me trouble!). It looked snazzy/sporty; it behaved like a constipated man about, oh, my age now. (Photo is from the Internet.) Years later, I gave my dad a check for $300--the amount he'd paid down for that car. And--shall we say?--he was shocked. But grateful.

So ... I had a job. A crib. A car.

What I didn't have? A clue about what to do with seventh graders.

To be continued ...

No comments:

Post a Comment