Sunday, June 04, 2006

It's time for a freak-out...

Okay, so I've got to be in Houston tomorrow night, rather than Wednesday afternoon, like the original plan, because a principal from a middle school in the eastern portion of the part of Houston inside the 610 loop [I'm still not sure/comfortable with how to talk about my work, for personal and legal reasons, so I'm being reeeeeeally vague for now, just to cover my arse.] called me on Friday super-excited about the possibility of my teaching for him, both as English teacher and a theatre(!) teacher...and he wants me to do an interview on Tuesday, June 6, at 8:00 AM.

This is INCREDIBLY exciting, but it also means that I've lost two days of prep time here in Groves. And I needed those two days, because I am the QUEEEEEEEEN of procrastination when it comes to measly little grunt-worky things like paperwork and refilling prescriptions and packing, etc. Boring but necessary stuff like that. So today I have been reading a bunch of shit I haven't finished reading for my pre-institute prep, and I've also gone shopping to get a few more professional-type outfits (who knew I was the queen of all clothing that ISN'T suitable for teaching adolescents?), and now I'm making a packing/to-do list the length of both my arms if you cut one off and sewed it to the end of the other. (Um. Gross. Sorry.)

But then there are snafus to handle too, not just little piddly stuff. And those take time, and they make me VERY VERY nervous when I'm dealing with a ticking clock.

For one thing, TfA is saying that I can't interview for or take the teaching position including the theatre job, only with the English job. They said they are more focused on doing the "academic" portion of the kids' scholastic achievement, and theatre doesn't fall under that category. Now, I've tried not to get my artist's hackles up in my discussions with TfA staff--and I am proud of myself because I think I have mostly succeeded--but I'm going to say it here: Please don't tell a VERY intelligent, VERY academic, VERY motivated playwright/actor that her life's joy and work isn't academic enough to bother with via a major non-profit educational organization's work in an underprivileged school, especially one where there is already a well-loved and vital theatre program filled with kids who depend upon it as a haven and means of expression in their crazy-stressful lives. She will be more than a little put-out by that assertion, and she will definitely take you to the mat on it.

And I have. After talking to a woman in the Houston regional office who was about midway down on the totem pole (a very nice woman, though; they all are, actually), I e-mailed the executive director of the region. I said in that e-mail that I am disturbed by the assertion that theatre is not worthwhile for me to teach in addition to and for less time than an English position. I said that disturbed me for a few reasons, not the least of which follow:
(1) The principal CLEARLY wants me to do this and thinks it's a great idea for me, the students, and the school;
(2) Doesn't hiring one teacher to fill two positions save the district time and money? Isn't that part of TfA's goal, to optimize district/school resources?;
(3) TfA places teachers in visual art classrooms in high schools... What's the difference between visual arts and theatre arts, and since when is visual art more "academic"?;
(4) The school clearly values the importance of the arts in these students' lives and will need to fill that position somehow or lose the program. Why would TfA want them to fill it with a non-TfA teacher when the principal clearly wants a teacher with the TfA background and exuberance, or why would TfA want to leave that position in the air when a highly qualified theatre person like myself could easily slip into it? Most importantly, based on this point, why would TfA want to send the message to the principal and the school that they don't value their theatre program, when it's clearly so important to the school? Wouldn't that make the principal and others feel as though TfA was telling them their priorities are out of whack?

So I'm waiting for a reply to that e-mail, which I wrote much more eloquently than the above list, I promise. And that's driving me nuts because I'm nervous the E.D. won't see it my way; for one thing, I really want to teach a couple of theatre classes, and, for another, I don't want to have to be the bearer of bad news to the middle school principal (though the first woman I talked to said that a TfA rep. would tell him their reasoning if I felt more comfortable with that).

And another thing...I am baffled and freaked out about what happens if my background check applications don't go through before June 12. Will TfA kick me to the curb? I hope not.

Speaking of "will TfA kick me to the curb?" questions...I wasn't able to do any classroom observation because I didn't get the paperwork in time. I hope they won't kick me for that, either. I mean, geez, I've been in classrooms for the last eighteen years of my life; I hope that counts for something.

All the rest of my shit is in line, as long as I can get it all to Houston. And that's where we come back to the piddly, annoying moving stuff. See, I have three different phases of being in Houston in the next six weeks. And then there's this weird phase where I may or may not have an apartment when I finish institute, so that's a fourth... See, it looks like this:

(1) the evening of Monday, June 5, through the afternoon of Wednesday, June 7: I will be staying, by myself, at a Hampton Inn in order to go to an interview with the principal at the middle school early Tuesday morning; at this time, I will need minimal stuff to get by, including all my TfA reading/prep work, nice clothing, toiletries, and a few odds and ends like a cell phone and prescriptions.

(2) the afternoon of Wednesday, June 7, through the morning of Sunday, June 11: I will be staying, with a roommate amidst all the other new corps members, in the Crowne Plaza Hotel Houston-Downtown in order to participate in induction activities for Teach for America-Houston; at this time, I will need a few more things than I did for the days I was by myself, including forms and money orders and booklets. Since I will hop from the first hotel to this one, I suppose I will probably just pack for (1) and (2) together.

(3) the morning of Sunday, June 11, through the evening of Saturday, July 15: I will be staying, with a roommate admist all the other new corps members and support system folks, in a dorm room on the University of Houston campus; at this time, I will need ALL SORTS OF THINGS, but not nearly as much as one would need if one were going to (a) have a lot of free time; (b) move into a new apartment and live there for good; or (c) have a bunch of room, or even more than just ONE room, to live in.

My dilemma, as you may be figuring out, is whether I want to carry everything I need for (1), (2), and (3) with me when I leave for (1); or do I want to bribe a parental unit or my brother to drive up to Houston (only two hours from my parents' home) and bring the extra period (3) stuff on Sunday, June 11? Because, see, I don't want to hold all that shit in my car for a few days while I'm in a hotel room, nor do I want it in my room with me. But I also hate the idea of my parents coming up to help me move in. I hate it for a lot of reasons I won't go into here, though you can maybe guess.

So there's all of that to think about, and, in fact, I need to get back to working on it. I just needed a moment to process it all before I freaked out. I feel a lot better. Thank you.

current music: John Denver, "Take Me Home, Country Road"

1 comment:

Andy said...

You're welcome.

I hope you have success with your emailing the regional director. My experience with trying to work up the totem pole on a campaign of any sort is the peons will very politely agree and say it's out of their power, and send me up the totem pole until I'm sent to someone with enough power but not enough to care about a stupid peon like me. I'm having that problem as we speak, and it's driving me batty. And this is that I know the people in power personally and can talk to them about what movies are cool but I can't get them to talk to me about something that matters a lot to me and to other people. It's frustrating.

I hope you're able to get all your chores done and stuff. Based on what I see in your schedule, you're in a hotel now by yourself. I'd use this time to meditate and masturbate, not necessarily in that order. But I'm sure you're two steps ahead of me.