Everything went sort of haywire in the last week. I've been off of work for exactly six months now due to being unable to eat or keep any food down, surgeries, etc. I think my employer has given up on me, but they won't fire me. They will fire me the day I come back in, but they won't fire me while I'm away. They want me to quit so I can't qualify for unemployment.
Strange stuff. As I've been laying here essentially dying I've been thinking I'd like a last crack at teaching. I was a good teacher. It was the one thing I did really well in my life I think. But I don't see a chance forthcoming for a lot of reasons.
Randomly and interestingly, this lady who teaches in the toughest area in the state and in the lowest performing school in the state (area has many homeless shelters and gang issues and so on, and has almost 75% turnover on teachers per year). She randomly calls and says that she has heard of me before and that I was somebody that is known for working with really hard to deal with kids and have had lots of success, specifically on end of year testing, and advancement and placement for future school years. It was semi-random.
She asks if I'm still teaching, as she had heard from a mutual acquaintance at BYU that I might have quit (which I did do 2 years ago last week). She then just randomly says.... "Well, I was wondering if you'd come teach my class for a month. I am due to have a baby any day and these students need a long-term substitute, but it has to be somebody who's nationally highly qualified for the No Child Left Behind Act, has to hold a current Level 2 professional license, has to be ESL endorsed, has to speak conversational Spanish, etc. etc." It was quite a list, but I was like, "Yes, I meet all of those criteria, but I have a job and am sick and on short term disability. I don't think it would be worth it to go teach for a month for $90 a day and no benefits as that is a MASSSSSSIVE cut in pay and it's a long drive back and forth.
She asks if I'll come up and meet her and volunteer an hour of my time to just talk to her and her teaching mates and see the school and stuff. So I begrudgingly agree and head up on Friday afternoon, even though I'm really sick still. But I tough it out and get there in a snowstorm and the temp was 5 degrees out. Brutal.
We start talking and she explains the class and then says, "Here's the thing.... I am not coming back next year. I will come back in the 2nd week of April and teach until July (they are on year round) and then I will leave. The principal said that whoever comes in long term would have a really strong foothold on the position for next year, and we need male teachers here desperately, and we need good teachers here desperately."
I start thinking about it. She is in a brand new building, right in the middle of a slum. She has every technological gizmo I fought for 10 years to get and got 1 (1 computer) in my old "rich school". There are iPads for every kid. Macbooks for every kid. A projector and a soundsystem, along with a smart board, and a teaching document camera that goes through the projector and onto the smart board. I am just blown away. Then she shows me a room full of hundreds of leveled books and so on. Just tons of equipment for science experiments, and tells me that she has two other people come in daily to help her teach reading. That her class size is capped at 23 (my last class was 38).
I'm seriously considering it. It's a very risky move. Just to take a month long sub job in hopes that it pays off into a full-time position next year, would be kind of crazy. But is it worth it? I felt like those kids needed me. I felt like I needed those kids. It's a pain of a drive. It's going into what everybody here considers a "scary" place. I'd be taking a massive paycut. I'd lose out on a lot of benefits, including my yearly bonuses, which were close to what I made in a year in teaching. But something has been gnawing at me all weekend.
I've been really sick and it just keeps beating me down to where I figure it's all going to end soon. But I wonder if teaching can save me somehow. I don't know how to explain it. I keep having that Shawshank line running through my head, where Red says, "Get busy livin'or get busy dyin', you're damn right." I just feel like maybe a window is creaking open offering me a chance to wrap things up where I'd want to be... in a classroom, helping some kids who really struggle, and hopefully making their lives better.
Now the question is... how unethical is it of me to have been sick (and still be sick) for six months, and maybe I'm ready and healthy enough to return to work in about 2 weeks, and I just decide to go work elsewhere as a temp. Is that corny? Will I get nailed for having to pay them back money if I do that since they paid me disability (in sporadic chunks if they felt like it) while I've been down? I don't feel I can get up to 40 hours a week of working, but this teaching gig would be 32 hours a week (of course it adds up to more, but technically my contract time would be shorter and easier on my body).
I just am having a real crisis of conscience here. I want to do what is right by everybody, and there is really no way to do so. I want to make sure my employer doesn't attack me for tons of cash. I wish they'd just send me a letter and terminate me for being sick for too long so I can just have no choice and will have to take a short term teaching job to make ends meet. I don't want Liberty Mutual coming after me after having paid me to try to get better, but then I don't return to the company I was on leave from. So many confusing points. The best thing that could happen is that the company I work for just releases me tomorrow (terminates me), Liberty Mutual then denies my claim again and says they are giving me no more money, and then I don't have to pay them or my employer back anything. I just need to mail in my security badges and decoder dongles and such that let me into the system and walk away. Or.... I need the principal to call and say "We won't hire you at the end" and then try to hurry and snap back into my current company and be a pretend employee who "loves my job!" for a few more years or until my body shuts down.
Tough times. No easy answers, and no answers forthcoming. I feel stuck on a tiny island with a rock and a palm tree and that's about it. Then today my Mom falls and hits her head and is told that her organs are going bad, she got a massive cut on her forehead, and so on, and we're staying with her while we build a house. Now I'm wondering if I should sell her house and insist she moves in with us so we can watch her, or cancel our house building and just stay here so we can take care of her since she likes this home. Or if I should just get no job and watch her 24/7 to make sure she's fed, taken care of, etc. It's a difficult week, but it seems like possibilities of a different life are coming around. They are just confusing.
R.I.P. Dad. I miss you. You will never be forgotten
1/12/39 - 8/7/08