A new School of Thought

I usually ignore e-mails from strangers asking me to promote their blogs.

Today, though, I sidestep that unwritten rule. I received an e-mail last night from Fred Deutsch, a school councilperson in Watertown, regarding his blog, School of Thought.

It’s well written and unapologetic. Best of all, it champions technology and the importance of being a forward thinking, multi-platform educator. It points out the positives of blogging (see, Bob Costas?) and shows how it can be beneficial to a school district’s constituents.

Most of all, I reminds me of my past, of just a few years ago when issues of school importance weren’t just articles in the newspaper, but actual roadblocks in my career.

Allow me to get personal here. I was a teacher once, a failed venture that I probably don’t give myself enough credit for. I was once intimately knowledgeable of school issues; of the difficulty of implementing No Child Left Behind and the scary reality of declining budgets. I stood in front of 20 or more kids five times a day and attempted to make sense of the Krebs Cycle, DNA replication, basic physics and organic chemistry.

Often, I stood in front of 20 or more kids five times a day and handed out worksheets, pressed play on movies, read my book and played babysitter.

The average person changes his or her career five times. Counting my high school jobs, I’ve gone from retail to food service to maintenance (with several more stints of retail in between) to substitute teacher to call center manager to writer. That’s six. I’m due to stick with something for a while now, thanks.

But I’ll always remember teaching as my first grown-up job, my post-college, “You’re a big kid now” career. I had a title, an identity – Corey Vilhauer, Teacher. I commanded respect from parents based not on my abilities but on my position, seen as a professional, even if I was never quite paid like one.

I soured on the job pretty quickly, losing heart and all desire in a matter of months. Substitute teaching can tear you apart if you’re not made of the right stuff. I wasn’t. And while I respect educators more than any other profession, I understand that I was never able to earn that respect within myself.

In the meantime, I’ve found a local outlet to stay abreast of what’s going on in our state’s schools. With Sierra just four years away from public schooling, I’d better read up before it’s too late.

So yeah, that’s a really long, introspective and egotistical way of saying “check out School of Thought.”

This was lovingly handwritten on March 18th, 2008