The Audacious Act of Educating (v.3)
a series on fulfilling a purpose
verse three, so there i was
She was loud and obnoxious, emotional and legitimately out of control. Eleven going on twenty-five, and as fate would have it, assigned to me. Her name was Priscilla, and it was my first day at Glenwood Elementary School.
I’m not sure whether it was the immediate desperation that demanded strength, or the eternal underdog that refused to stand down. But my belief in my own path became so much stronger after the falling-out. I drove off that night with no intentions of ever looking back, with only a hamper full of clothes, a few hundred bucks, and literally no place to be. Except for a few worn-down couches that belonged to a couple good friends.
Between that emotional departure, and my first encounter with the unforgettable Priscilla, I met one of the greatest guides of my life. He was none other than Dr. Don Fuller, former Peace Corp member from the 70’s and owner of the baddest F350 diesel truck I’d ever seen. He was the kind of person who looks you directly in the eye, and with very little reservation, tells you exactly how he feels. The kind of school Principal that interviews you once, then calls a few weeks later, turning an uncertain future into an opportunity to never look back.
It was one of those vanilla-colored wall phones that hung in the kitchen, right by the stove. I was completely taken by surprise when it rang that evening, and just a few seconds into the conversation, it started feeling surreal. Dr. Fuller was on the other end, explaining how much potential there was to guide such young students, how being a first generation immigrant would resonate so much with children of similar backgrounds.
He called offering a full-time, no-kidding sixth grade teaching position at Glenwood. And, I was blown away.
Fast forward a few months and there I was, imploring my students to settle down, to learn something, if only for a few precious minutes. We were in a classroom after all. After that first full day, I left school dragging a milk crate full of teacher’s edition textbooks, with a messenger bag slung across my shoulder, delirious from a raging headache. Wondering how all this came to be.
What an amazing confluence of adventure, and conflict and gratefulness. It all proved so formative and foundational as I continued on. I remained a school teacher for two remarkable years, sending my students to the seventh grade as best I could, with the greatest of intentions. But it turned out teaching wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies as I’d naively imagined. Rather, it was an insanely difficult endeavor to provide mentorship, to care for their well-being, manage most of their days, and still teach them things of value.
I realize now, how audacious that part of my life really was. I learned valuable lessons about the world, and a few about myself, that only a path like that could’ve taught. Nothing was ever guaranteed, so deciding to veer off and creating my own journey wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
Truth is, not all those who wander are lost.
P.S. Thank you allowing me to share this series. If you wake up with a desire to disrupt the status quo and change the world, please share the series with others as we continue learning more about one another, one story at a time.