Looking For a Job? Be Willing to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the past two years I went to school online to obtain my Masters in Library Science while tutoring to earn a living. In January I started the process of filling out applications at numerous schools across the country. By April, I had applied to schools in at least 12 states, and had seriously considered applying to one in another country. By March I was starting to feel desperate, and reading all the news stories of teachers and librarians being cut all over, decided to apply to a couple different oil and gas companies. Nothing was panning out. By May and graduation, I had had TWO interviews. One for a school librarian position, and one for a very small oil and gas company.

About at this point I decided that I probably was not going to find a job for this coming school year. So, I talked to the teacher at my local church’s school about my putting together a library program for the school on a volunteer basis. I planned to continue my tutoring to support myself, but at least this way I’d be getting some experience to put on my resume. She was enthusiastic about my plan. So I put out a request on the librarian listserve for ideas on how to implement my plan. I received many fantastic responses, but one which stood out was a link to a teacher job site I had not previously found.

When I checked the job site, and filled out my information, one of the first postings immediately caught my eye. It was for a parochial mission school working with Native Americans in New Mexico. I was completely intriqued. The religious affiliation of the school was completely different than mine, and a tradition which is nearly completely foreign to my upbringing. But .. the librarian position did not require the person to be of the same faith – just that you be a Christian.

Several aspects interested me in this position. Working with NA children who are in an area which qualifies as a very low socio-economic area would qualify me for an Americorp education grant. While I don’t need to pay back any loans, it could be nice to have money available to go back and get another Master’s later if I really want to. 🙂 I also was really interested in the opportunity to learn about another culture (really to be immersed in a very different cuture/area) without even leaving the United States. The pay offered was less than I made my first year of teaching in 1997 (about $7k less), but it did offer free health insurance, free housing /utilities (there is NO housing except what is provided in the area), and two free meals a day at the cafeteria when school is in session.

I spent a lot of time on Google finding out everything I could about the town the school was located in and the surrounding area. I also found out as much as I could about Americorp. My family really was NOT excited about the idea. At all. I was though. So I went ahead and submitted my application. Weeks passed. I thought it was just another fruitless effort. Then towards the end of May I received a phone call from the principal. We talked for about 20 minutes. I thought for sure I’d disqualified myself when she found out I was a vegetarian and and SDA. A few weeks later though, I received an email from her asking if I’d be willing to do a phone interview.

The phone interview went pretty well. She asked me if I’d come out to the school to visit the area and interview. A three day interview! So the third week of June I had the opportunity to visit the school while it was in summer session. I met some of the kids, got to ride a bus with some of the students out onto the reservation, and even went out on a food run (meals on wheels) into the innards of the reservation — where I had the chance to go into a traditional hogan! Thankfully they liked me too. 😀

I’ve spent most of my life in moderate sized cities up to metropolitan areas. Where I live now, the town has two gas stations, a Family Dollar, two restarants, a video store, a PO Office (only way to get your mail – no home delivery) and a small expensive grocery store. That’s it. To get to a town with a movie theater, fast food places, Walmart, etc., it is a 30 minute drive East or West. That’s going 75mph (or cough, cough 80…).

Most of my life I have not been the minority person. Some places I lived, I was in the extreme majority (i.e MN) and other places I was somewhat of a minority in a place of many nationalities (i.e. NJ). Here, I am in the extreme minority. Other than the main teachers at the school(s), the vast majority are Native American. There are a few Hispanic and African Americans as well.

Other than with my tutoring students, my teaching experience has been mainly with the lower grades. Mainly first and second grade. Here I am working with students as young as 3 and as old as 16.

Other than my first few years of life, I have always lived in either an apartment or a regular house. Here I live in my very own 😀 circa 1970’s (maybe) mobile home.

I’ve now been here since the beginning of August. We started school August 17. Am I happy with my choice to step outside of my comfort zone? Am I loving teaching computers and library skills to a wide range of ages (including helping out several teachers)? In a word, YES!! 😀 😀

Oh, and about the salary. Although it is low, it is more than I made when I was tutoring. My expenses are also quite a bit less. My only bills are my internet, cell, gas, and food. So I will be able to start socking money away again to rebuild my emergency funds, my car replacement fund, and possibly my dream/fun funds. 😀 I also recently acquired a 4 month old kitten – since I now can afford any vet bills. *See picture at top of post. Isn’t she sweet?