Thursday, March 4, 2010

NY, NY- part 4

When we last saw our naive protagonist she was slowly coming to her senses after jumping off a slowly moving train because it was headed in the wrong direction.
Much like her NY job search.

... ...

I excitedly went to Borders and found the perfect Eric Carle book to use in my lesson to teach to the head start children in Queens. I woke up early, made sure I was professional enough for a panel interview, but realistic enough to teach a group of head start children. I got in the car to begin my two hour commute into the city from Delaware. And then, right before getting to the Princeton train station I was hit from behind- throwing my car into the one in front of me. The car that hit me left us at the side of the road, while I pulled over along with a very unhappy woman who did NOT care that I was on my way to a job interview in Queens.
I waited and waited for us to call our insurance companies, take pictures, etc. all while desperately trying to call the school to let them know I would be late.

I finally got to the school (after taking a taxi which let me out no where near the school because he wasn't interested in actually finding the address of where I'd sent him- it was Queens after all) and immediately fell in love with the students, enjoyed meeting the parents, and felt energized after speaking with the staff. Sadly, the salary they were willing to pay me would buy me a cardboard box, (only slightly smaller than the actual apartments we were looking at).
The school said they had some other interviews to do but that they'd be in touch.

During this time, my parents, who hadn't been thrilled about the whole moving to New York thing in the first place, were quietly holding their tongues and not saying "I told you so". (To this date I have never heard them say "I told you so" about the whole experience. Although, in retelling some of the stories there has been lots of laughter). My parents were, however, quietly sending my resume to every school in the DC area. It was almost mid-August, when schools were beginning to desperately fill positions, and I so, when I wasn't looking at apartments, wandering the streets of the Bronx looking for schools, navigating my way through the bureaucracy of the NY Board of Ed, I was doing phone interviews with schools in the DC area.

I remember sitting on a rock in Central Park, desperately trying to focus on answering questions about my classroom management philosophy while watching mothers herd their squealing children on a near by playground.

And so, eventually, I gave it up. I let the Board of Ed know I was tired of the run around. I let my future roommate know that I wasn't actually moving to NY after all. I packed up my things from Delaware and drove home, relieved to have the NY craziness behind me. I had a week of interviews lined up for schools in the DC area and had to throw myself into that if I had any hope of actually having a job for that school year.

In a span of 3 weeks I'd jumped off a moving train, gotten into a car accident, learned to navigate the subway system like a pro, toured schools in every borough, gained the proper sense of respect for the NY realty market, and discovered what is fully wrong with the public school system- not the schools or the teachers, but the bureaucracy. With that disillusionment I headed back to VA, declaring defeat.

Sadly, a week after I'd accepted a job at a school in the DC area the Head Start school offered me the job. I still wonder what would have happened if I'd taken it...

I ended up at a school that was NOT the think-tank, although it was only 5 minutes down the road. It was the opposite of the think-tank in almost ever way, and between suffering through the weeks and driving three hours every weekend to take care of a sick college friend who was in and out of the hospital, I was suffering through that first year out of college. I slept on an air mattress until Christmas that year, which didn't help my mood or adjustment. Needless to say I started studying for the L-SAT. Those first 3-4 months of teaching can be a painful learning curve.

Finally, though, life started to come together. My class began to gel, I finally bought a real bed, & started to feel more confident in the 'not-think-tank' atmosphere. January settled in and I knew I could make it to the end of the year. It wasn't NY. I wasn't living the dream in NY, cramming 2 people into a one bedroom apartment. I wasn't teaching in the Bronx. It wasn't where I'd dreamed I'd end up. But I was teaching. I was teaching children who just came into the country, who lived in one bedroom apartments with multiple families. Who loved coming to school. And in truth, I was loving teaching, despite everything else.

And right when I'd put NY behind me I received a letter from NY City Public Schools. A letter which contained my W2.


I don't even want to tell you the nightmare I had to go through to get them to cancel the W2.

"Hi, I recently received a W2 from you, however, I don't work for NY City Public Schools"

"That's not what our records say"

"Yes, well, regardless, I am in VA. I work in VA. I live in VA. I do not work in NYC."

"But our computer states..."

I was just glad to finally hear they were actually using computers instead of the boxes they'd relied on only months before.

And so, 8 years after signing the early hire contract, yet never actually working in NY City- I've received a check from them, along with the letter stating that I'd never reported to work.

It's like the adventure that never ends.

1 comment:

Josie said...

I would say that this is unbelievable, except that you're the one telling the story so it's obviously true. I'm SO GLAD you're at the ThinkTank now (for selfish reasons, too). But I'm frustrated about the ineptitude of the NY school system, and am afraid that it is not unique.