Monday, March 14, 2011

walking in memphis


I haven't written about this anywhere yet publicly. So this is my official 'announcement' to the handful of followers on here, and to anyone who might read this from my facebook friends.

I haven't wanted to say anything until now for several reasons. The timing didn't seem right. I didn't want to get my hopes up, be rejected, and then have dozens of people ask me about it, requiring me to repeat the sad story over and over again. Kind of like how people who are pregnant don't tell people at first. I also wanted the people closest to us to know and be able to get used to the idea before people could ask them a million questions.

Next Thursday (wow, NEXT Thursday), Spencer and I will be flying to Memphis for the weekend because I have a job interview there. This past fall, I had applied to Teach for America, the peace corps type teaching program for inner cities that is renowned for turning things around in the country's worst school districts. I knew that there was a slim chance I'd even make it to the phone interview level, let alone be chosen to go, but I have been praying/thinking about/attempting to get into teaching for the last several years, and I felt that I wanted to go where the need is greatest. Well, I did make it to the phone interview, but no farther. I was heartbroken. I guess once I made it to some level, I got my hopes up. It seemed like this was a real possibility, almost tangible.

After TFA notified me that I would not be going to an in-person interview, they offered to pass along my info to other programs that like to recruit from their applicant pool. I didn't want to, but Spencer encouraged me- "just see what comes" he said. Several things came, but nothing that was the right fit. I need this to be a job, not a volunteer thing. And I want to teach, I don't want to be a group leader of something, though mentoring is important. Then I got an email from the Memphis Teaching Residency. Many cities are now using 'residencies' (like medical residencies) for teaching because it helps new teachers stay in teaching, and in inner city schools. The bonus: a Master's degree in exchange for 3 years of teaching. The super awesome bonus: MTR is a Christian program, believing that teaching is a direct response to the gospel. I would not just be trying to 'better' students through education; I would be mentored and teamed with other Christians, and be able to share that hope with my students!

Despite all this, I didn't want to apply. I guess I thought I didn't want to be disappointed again after TFA, not to mention the numerous other jobs I had applied to and been rejected from in the last year. It's a recession, I know, but it got to me. Spencer kept encouraging me to apply, so we decided to pray about it for a week. I have to admit, I didn't pray much. I kinda just wanted to move on and forget about teaching. Spencer prayed like crazy. I'd never seen him like that. Not that he doesn't pray, but this was at every meal, when we went to bed, doggedly and persistently. At the end of the week, I said Ok, but after the holidays.

Finally, I did apply, and then the whirlwind began. I had my phone interview (everyone who applied got one) and at the end, she asked me 'Do you have any questions for me?' Not wanting to say nothing, I asked, 'When should I expect to hear from you?''
"About 2 weeks, maybe longer, depending on the other interviews." 
"Oh, Ok, I was just wondering because I'd have to find airfare."
"Well, let's just make this easy- Congratulations!" My jaw dropped. My eyes filled with tears. I was totally shocked. She asked, "Would this be something that would interest you?" "Yes!" I choked. She laughed.

That was January 13th. For the last 8 weeks, I have been preparing. I have read books on education, recommending by MTR and also by my cousin Amanda, a teacher in Baltimore. I have studied for (and now taken) the Praxis II, the certification test I need to pass in order to teach in TN. I have researched the city of Memphis, the state of Tennessee, and the general state of education in the U.S. I have watched Waiting for Superman (an awesome movie even if you are not into teaching). And I have prayed. Mostly I have prayed. I have never prayed so much about anything in my life. And it has not been, "God let us have this." I don't think I prayed that at all for the first 5 or 6 weeks. I just prayed for wisdom, direction, peace, unity, humility. Spencer has been praying, too. He is like my cheerleader. I have other cheerleaders. Family and friends are praying for us and so excited for this opportunity.

And now it's almost here. I have two days off from work in between now and when we leave. For awhile, it seemed so far away, but now it's right here. I can check the weather now. We have our hotel, rental car, and airfare ready to go. I bought real grown up shoes to go with my suit we got in case I needed it for Teach for America.

I don't think I have any 'confirmation' either way about this. It's funny, to have your whole life up in the air and just keep waiting to find out which way it's going to go. I know I have to be Ok with not going, which is likely since there are 60 of us going to this weekend, and 11 open positions, most of them in math and science. I don't think of it as a 'one in six' chance. I think that it's already decided one way or the other, planned by God, but I am confined by Time and unable to see it.

Deep breath. I'm glad we had this chat. I am so excited to write about this now on here and share what God does in the near future.

For now, I leave you with this. It's been playing in my head for months, and I can't wait to actually see it in ten days!


  1. I'm freaking out!!! 100% happy for you and 100% already missing you and 100% regretful for not spending more time with you when I had the chance. LOVE YOU!!!!!

  2. YAY! I'm excited that you're excited about this possibility. That you're relying on God and leaving it up to Him. And you're absolutely right, it's not a 1 out of 6 chance, it's a is-this-God's-will-for-my-and-my-hubby type of thing. There's no chance involved. But taking that step of faith, hope, and perseverance is part of the journey, no matter the destination.
    You rock!

  3. God's way is always right and true and best. Loved reading this "story" of a journey and excited to see how this story continues. We will be praying along with you. God went before you that is clear and He is going with you now. Love you Tara and Spencer!

  4. you are a wonderful teacher and I know this from the way you worked with my grandchildren. If this is God's choice for you, they will be blessed!! Just like my babies were blessed!
    Love you guys! I'm praying!!!!!!