I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
After a full week of studying and worrying about graduation, I am emotionally exhausted, and the ride isn't over yet. The latest news: I've passed Spanish. Yup, you read that right. My TA bumped up the final exam score enough for me to pass with a D. I'm still not happy about the grade or the evaluations, so I'll be writing letters to the Chancellor and who ever else might respond. The bottom line though is that it's passing and I'll be graduating on time which means that New Orleans is back on the table. Which brings me to the next bit of stress: Do I want to teach in New Orleans?
For the past few days I've been looking at schools in Maine. Small schools in rural coastal towns and islands where I could start small in an area I adore. Maybe I just did too good a job of justifying the potential loss of NOLA, but I kind of want to teach in Maine and wondering if, even with the guarantees of New Orleans, I really want to head south.
Here are the pros and cons as I see them:
- Pros: It's a fun city and I'll be doing a rewarding job while learning a lot about how to teach under the worst of circumstances. Rent is cheap and Sarah will be joining me down there, so it will be even cheaper. The pay is good and it's going to look great on a resume. I also won't have to use my car (which is not sounding great) so that will let me keep more of my paycheck. Another huge pro is that teachNOLA will provide support throughout the school year so I'll have an advocate.
- Cons: I don't plan on living in New Orleans forever or even making a career out of inner city based education. The experience, while rewarding, will be stressful and at time discouraging. I'll be expected to advance my students at least 1 1/2 years, not the typical one grade level, so there will be long hours and lots of nail biting. The education through teachNOLA is excelent and helpful, but it's not free. By the end of the year it costs about $4,000 which will be taken out of my paychecks. Even though I have a position with teachNOLA I'll still have to find a school when I get down there, so I'll be doing applications and interviews for a while until I'm hired as well as teaching summer school, working at the hostel, and not making any money. And then of course there is the heat and humidity.
- Pros: Maine is beautiful and one of my favorite states, plus there are few things I love as much as the ocean, so you can't beat the location. The rural schools have small classes which would allow me to teach without the pressures of a large inner city school and really focus on method and material, which might be a benefit in the long run. I'm familiar with the culture and, while this may not seem like a big deal, it definitely can come in handy especially when dealing with families. Speaking of families, I'll be within a day's drive (7 hours) of my nephews and my parents, which would be kind of nice.
- Cons: They pay less and I might have to figure out transportation (fix the Jetta or buy something), which will cut my paycheck even further. While money was never the point, it does come in handy when the credit card bill comes due. I'll also have to figure out housing which could be sparse depending on the location. I won't have the educational benefits of the teachNOLA summer program or the support from an outside organization. In New Orleans I would have staff supporting my job hunt, but realistically I might not even be hired by a school in Maine.
I wish I has a week to think about it, but I need to either start my course work for New Orleans ASAP or start applying for jobs in Maine. I was looking at summer schools I could teach at and they'll need applications even sooner.