Archive for May, 2013

May 5, 2013

You Say Goodbye, and I Say Hello

Now that most people in my life know, I can finally share this news:  I have accepted a job offer at KIPP Tulsa as a 6th grade social studies teacher for next year!


If you had asked me last year what I was thinking of doing when my TFA time was up, I would have told you that I would be staying at my current school and teaching my second graders again (moving from 2nd to 4th grade had them looping back to me).  Many things have happened this year, though, that made me consider other options.  In January, I was recommended for a position to teach in a new charter school in Tulsa.  I figured I’d go for it and completed two phone interviews and a sample lesson at the end of February.  When my interview was done, though, it became clear that they weren’t sure of what open spots they would have for months.  I was discouraged that there might not be any spots open, and I wasn’t sure if the school was a good fit after the interview.  I started to think that staying at my current school another year might be better than switching to the unknown, but then KIPP came my way.

The principal (or school leader) of KIPP e-mailed me personally inviting me out to chat about teaching opportunities at KIPP.  Apparently, the same person who had recommended me to the last charter school had also mentioned my name to KIPP.  Even though I was starting to sway back to my own school, I decided there was nothing to lose by meeting up with the principal.  Business school taught me that if the head of any organization is going to take time out of their schedule to spend one on one time with you, take advantage of the opportunity and learn all you can.  So I did.

We were probably out for about an hour and a half, and by the end of our meeting I was sold.  Here was a school leader who had a strong vision for the next decade that I wanted to be a part of.  I filled out an application that night, and had a sample teaching lesson scheduled for the week after spring break.  Now I am not one to make decisions lightly- anyone who really knows me is aware of this.  I talked to several teachers at KIPP to get a good, well-rounded perspective of what it is like to work there.  I feel like different teachers have different experiences, and it’s good to hear what they all have to say to get a good feel for the school environment.  I also tried to be observant as possible at my interview and drop by as many classrooms as I could during my free time to tour the school.  One class was dissecting frogs, another was dissecting a novel, and a third was receiving a stern talk from their teacher about not quitting in the final days before testing (I can’t count how many times I’ve given that speech).

Overall I loved the atmosphere, and I really enjoyed teaching a group of their 5th graders for an hour.  I saw a bit of my students in the class (ex. the one who ALWAYS has the right answer), which made me miss and wonder about my 4th graders that morning.  I came back to hugs and smiles from my whole current class, and it was hard to even think about leaving.  The truth is, though, they won’t be my kids next year.  They are moving on to two very strong 5th grade teachers at my school who will take just as good care of them as I could.  I know I will love my class wherever I am- it’s just time to take another leap of faith with my career and hope it works out for the best.

I signed my job offer at KIPP on April 3rd.  This means I will spend the next two weeks at my current school finishing up the year, and then take a two week vacation home to Orlando.  I have to be back by June 5th to start summer school as a faculty adviser (I will FINALLY be on the other side of the TFA process), and will work in that position through mid-July.  I’m hoping some of my family will come up to visit then before I leave for the annual KIPP Summit in Las Vegas (last year it was in Orlando- that would have been so convenient!).  I am so excited to meet with KIPP teachers across the nation and learn as much as possible before I start there the following week.  KIPP starts in August with professional development and then a couple weeks of summer school for their kids.

Thank you to all those who have been really supportive of the move.  It is not easy to leave the school that has been my home the past two years, and I did think about all aspects of the decision before making it.  Yes, I know the hours are longer.  Yes, I know I’m on call for the kids.  Yes, I know that it is not a contract position.  I promise I’ve thought of these things, but I do appreciate you looking out for me, too.  I’ll keep you posted on the transition.  Until then, you can see a little about KIPP’s story here: