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We have an announcement...

Apr 28, 03:13 AM · from the mouth of Jim

...and no, we’re not getting married – but it does involve children and Sarah…

(and now for Sarah)

Well, that’s what he says, anyway ;o)

WARNING: You know I’m verbose. Never allow me to make my own post again because it’s a novel. Only read if you have time.

Okay, so the not-so-big-anymore news that should have been posted… oohhh… 18 days ago (but who’s counting?) is that… I’M A FIRST GRADE TEACHER!!! Mwa ha ha ha… er, I will be starting in August anyway.

I started working on my resume, etc. before we left for our little road trip out to California in March, but I really hit the job search hard after we got back. (‘Tis the season for elementary schools to be running through the numbers.) Tyler was AWESOME and offered to spiff up my resume and make it all pretty and professional-looking. I just couldn’t say no to an offer like that! I did all the online applications I could find before the fair (it’s recommended), which probably took about 20 hours total, no joke, it’s ridiculous.

Armed with the best-looking resume ever and having done tons of research (and spending too much on a new girl-suit… pinstripes all the way, baby!), I headed off to the Greater Denver Teacher Fair.

Now, I didn’t expect to actually find a job there. No… you talk to anyone, and the fair is just mostly to get practice interviewing. It’s a madhouse with over 300 interviewers and 800 interviewees. You interview with the big districts, get your name out a little, drop off some resumes… and then the districts put you into either the “maybe” or “maybe not” piles. THEN, after having already applied online and having interviewed with the district, you watch their websites like mad. When a specific position opens up, you contact the principal, visit the school, and try like mad to get an interview with a whole board of people, including principals, faculty, parents… then you hope like hell they consider you. From all of the horror stories, I was expecting to get an offer in July at the earliest… and maybe not even until August. I was in it for the long haul.

On a whim the night before the fair, I started checking out websites for some smaller schools. I found one that was sort of interesting, and the more and more I researched it, the more excited I got. After waiting in the entrance line, I decided to head for this school first to sign up for a slot. I was the first (and only) one to arrive at the table so early, and I was surprised to find that the principal herself was actually there.

Mrs. Witt was very friendly and seemed surprised that I was so enthusiastic about Landmark Academy, and that I had researched it. She seemed even more surprised when I was most interested in teaching the curriculum for first grade, and said that it wasn’t very common. We had a nice chat, I gave her my resume, and signed up for the first available slot. I signed up for a few other interviews, and nervously waited the hour and a half until the interview.

I was really bored. I showed up 10 minutes early… just in case. We started 5 minutes early.

She said first thing that she loved my resume (Ty, you are a god, I owe you) and that I was at the top of her list. That interview was the best out of the six that I had at the fair. She didn’t make me nervous for some reason, which is a great sign from a principal if you ask me. She was easy to talk to… and besides, I was really excited! (An interesting aside… not surprisingly, I interview better with women than with men…)

While that interview went pretty well, the rest went pretty much terribly, I felt… but I did get compliments on the resume! ;o) So, my confidence wasn’t too high. I was hopeful anyway, but tried not to be… it’s really hard to do!

She had asked me to send her an e-mail… so I did. She had been excited that I’d already applied online. I was a little confused… she answered my questions in bullet form, but at the bottom she said “I’m going to love working with you.” Longest week of my life.

One week later, I got the call! Just as I was about to send another follow-up, I decided to check my messages. I think the dogs thought I was crazy, because I let out a little “eeeek!” that sounded like it came from a 14 year old girl (or, I just acted like I did 9 years ago, haha). So… I accepted the offer, went to a parent meeting, met the other teachers (so far), and was introduced as a first grade teacher!

That’s a long story. I could have simply said “Ty made me a great resume and the interview went really well and I got an offer a week later…” but face it guys, if you’re reading this you want something to read anyway, so I’m here to help!

Now, you’re probably wondering about this school and what I meant by the teachers “so far”.

This is such a great opportunity and I’m SO excited for it. Landmark Academy is a charter school (not to be confused with a private school) operated by National Heritage Academies (NHA). (The short of it is, charter schools are tuition-free and open enrollment, and funded by public monies, but separate from district regulations… but at the same time, still held accountable for all the same testing.)

This is the first school that NHA is opening in Colorado. It is BRAND NEW. In fact, it’s not even a building yet. I drove to it today with Marge while Jim was at work :) Right now it’s a big plot of dirt, and it looks like they’ve got the plumbing all rigged up and have poured the foundation. Hurray for running water! It’s in Reunion, Colorado… right out by DIA in Commerce City :) (Yep, Jim finally taught me how to make links work! Only took a minute, sheesh…)

Perhaps the thing I’m looking forward to most about this school is that they use the Core Knowledge Sequence. The more I read about it, the more I like it… though I’ll let you know for sure once I actually teach it :) But I mean, come on! The girl who took college courses in Egyptian Hieroglyphs and Archaeology and Astronomy actually gets to teach these things?? I’m so stoked! First-grade version, of course… and they said I’d never use it. Pish posh. We’ll use Core Knowledge in addition to other programs of course, including Lucy Calkins for writing. She’s one of my heroines, so this is good news!

And, this may seem silly, but I’m really excited because there are three teachers per grade (K-5, we’ll add a grade each additional year until we’re K-8)... and she’s specifically hiring two first year teachers and one veteran teacher per grade. Do you know what this means?? 11 OTHER FIRST YEAR TEACHERS TO PLAY WITH! Silly, but I’m hoping to make some friends… because the few girlfriends that I do have are all moving :*( PLUS, we get our very own new teacher coach for the school. Usually there are only one or two for a whole district. I’m going to get lots of attention! Hurray!

I’m getting excited too because they’re flying us to Michigan for training and team building (since that’s where most of NHA schools are) July 30th-August 2nd. It’ll be a lot of work, but should be fun and I’m stoked. Then they’ve promised they’ll have the school open when we get back from that so we can set up our classrooms together. It’ll be fun work :)

Basically, this is amazing. I get to work in a great environment with a great team, I got to pick my grade, and I had a job offer in mid-April instead of mid-July. I almost don’t know what to do with myself :) Well, I am reading about Core Knowledge a lot… check out The Knowledge Deficit for a good read, especially you Andy and TyTy. I found it at my library. Okay, the first few chapters aren’t that great, but it gets better…

It’ll be really hard work, but work that I think I will like. They hold us to very high standards since it’s run more like a corporation. We have a rubric as teachers that we’re evaluated on, and it’s really comprehensive. They hold the kids to high standards. According to NHA, my job title is “Life-changer and Life-saver”. I’m not under “contract”, since they hire us just like a corporation would. At the same time, they put a lot into training us so they don’t like to see us go and have very high retention rates. The benefits are competitive with the market.

So, once I actually get in there, I’ll let you know if I still think Core Knowledge and charter schools are so great ;o) I hope so!!

I don’t know if I even want to know how long this is. You’re troopers if you made it this far. I hope you enjoyed the entertainment!


PS- Thanks again, TyTy, I really think you had a whole lot to do with me having a job already!


Comment [8]

  1. Andy responds with:

    Congrats Sarah! Not only is it great that you found an exciting job, but I do believe you’ve just produced the longest goofyguys post ever. Damn.

    Now, the tough questions:

    With this whole corporate model, will you be in the teachers’ union? Will you be able to get tenure? Are you on the public school pay scale, or something different? Do they have arts programs (specifically, of course, music) at your school? Do you know how many students you’ll have?

    OK, that’s out of the way…

    The job sounds tremendous! I can imagine your excitement at being part of something brand new like this, especially with all of the team building and new teacher things you mentioned. Also, thank your lucky stars that you got first grade. Here in NY anyhow, they don’t have to take any state tests!

    I’ll be very interested to here how everything goes. Keep us posted on it!

    · Apr 28, 12:48 PM
  2. Jimmy's Girlie responds with:

    I’m not sure about teacher’s union or tenure. I think it’ll be different in that regard.

    It’s competitive with wages and benefits to the public school systems around here. It’s exactly what I was expecting.

    Of course there’s an arts program! I’d be gone if there weren’t. Core Knowledge includes art and music. We’ll have art, music, PE, and computers for specials.

    We’ll have our own tests for every grade. Like I said… they hold us accountable for a lot. They expect 1.25 year’s growth out of every child per grade. I’ll let you know if it’s great, or a nightmare… could go either way. If it’s well done we’ll just have some really lucky kids. If not… I’ll be looking elsewhere next year or the next :) I’m hoping I’ll be up to the challenge…

    Thanks Andy!

    · Apr 28, 02:23 PM
  3. Iak responds with:

    Hooray! :) And don’t worry about the length. We always post in sporadic swells. More content is always good. :)

    · Apr 28, 02:43 PM
  4. Tyler responds with:

    Yippee! Jimmy told me a little about this last week, but I’m glad to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. Not that you’re a horse…...

    The program does sound great. I was reflecting on my time in District #13’s Integrated Day program the other day. Even that was a fairly progressive approach to education. Jimmy can tell you about it if he hasn’t already (although I still think he’s a traitor for bailing out after 6th grade!)

    And I’m glad that everyone liked your resume. It may have looked pretty, but that was just icing on the already delicious cake of impressive content. And you have only yourself to thank for that.

    I expect to be reading plenty of updates in August and September!

    Now Andy….. Didn’t you mention an Amsterdam post coming our way? .....waiting patiently…..

    And lastly, I’ve posted a little thingy on my blog about my most recent beer. You can find it here.

    · Apr 30, 04:20 PM
  5. Jimmy's Girlie responds with:

    Thanks guys :)

    Andy, I just realized I neglected to answer your question about class size.

    This is a popular school and enrollment for Kindergarten and First Grade have already gone to lottery, so we’ll be at full capacity. The cap is… are you ready?

    27 per class.

    It’s not unbearable, but I’m a little annoyed. 27 is a difficult number to work with, and I know, because that’s EXACTLY how many students I had while student teaching. Why?

    27 is not divisible by any nice number for group work. At all. Partners, fives, fours, sixes… forget it. Ugggh.

    Oh well, if that’s my biggest complaint, things are going really well! ;o)

    And, I am waiting for an Amsterdam post as well.

    Jimmy update: He’s really getting p*ssed off at how discombobulated his work place is. I’m doing my best to keep him happy on the home front. Hopefully it will get better soon…

    · Apr 30, 05:26 PM
  6. Jimmy's Girlie responds with:

    Well, I can do threes… so that’s something, anyway ;o)

    · Apr 30, 05:27 PM
  7. Andy responds with:

    Keeping Jimmy happy on the home front… so that’s what they’re calling it these days? Very nice.

    27. ouch! that’s big. I believe our 1st grades are capped at 24, which is a VERY nice number: 2s, 3s, 6s, 4s, 5s (with one 4 group).

    If you did it student teaching you’ll be much better at it when it’s your own class.

    Amsterdam post forthcoming – hopefully before I go to bed tonight!

    · Apr 30, 07:41 PM
  8. Andy responds with:

    Yeah… so I ended up going to a thing for a former Dartmouth professor of mine this evening, and I just got home… so no Amsterdam post tonight. I DID pick out the pictures before I left, but I have to make them into beautiful thumbnails before I can post. Give me until Thursday. And don’t let me forget!

    · May 1, 12:59 AM
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