The Rough Road

I started graduate school in February with my alma mater UMUC. All the classes are online, which is how I did most of my Bachelor’s Degree, so I knew that it wouldn’t be an issue.

The way that the graduate program for education at this university is set up you take one class at a time. The classes are 6 credits and run for three months. I’m currently in week 8.

When I started the class, I was thinking to myself that this was going to be a piece of cake! I was taking 4, FOUR, English classes at the end of my undergrad, going through a divorce and finding a place to live and I still passed all of them. One class will be a breeze!

Instead:

See how the room looked around him? That’s my house.

Between class, hunting for a job, dealing with my youngest son’s horrible behavior and a myriad of house problems (like leaky pipes), I’m that guy that just went nuts.

On the upside, I’m pulling an A.

On the downside, it’s 10:22 pm and I’m writing this as I take a short break from working on my next project which is due in a week and for which I have no idea what I’m doing.

Yes, just like them - fabulous, but Clueless

Yes, just like them – fabulous, but Clueless

Yeah, it’s going to be a long week!

But even with all of the challenges and hurdles I have to jump, I’m in graduate school. That’s nuts to me. I never, truly, thought I would get here. I never thought that I would be on the road to earning my Masters in Education. I never thought that I would be able, for various reasons, to take the first step of achieving the dream that I have held since I was 12.

Yet, here I am.

Despite the divorce, three layoffs in the past two years, the fact that my trailer seems intent on falling apart around my ears, my son’s lackluster performance in school and his attitude issues, I am still on the road to my dreams.

reaching for dreamsI could have thrown in the towel, walked away from the kids and gone my own way in life because it was the easy thing to do. People do that all the time (i.e., my ex). But I didn’t. Sure I have had days where I just have curled up in a ball and bawled until my eyes felt like they were going to fall out.

I have had days where I just wanted to walk out the door and never come back. Who doesn’t?

But that’s the cowards way.

I’m a lot of things, many of them not favorable, but I’m not a coward. I’m not afraid of hard work and hard times to reach my goals. I’m not afraid of rolling up my sleeves and doing what needs to be done to make things work out the way I want them to.

socks Except for laundry. That’s why God created laundry baskets, so you wouldn’t have to fold the socks and they could still be considered clean and out of the way.

Where was I? Oh, that’s right. The rough road.

The easy road will seem so perfect. It will be filled with sunshine and light, and unicorns pooping rainbows overunicorn pooping your head. Angels will sing and all will be good.

Until you hit the bump in the road.

Because, it’s a fact, folks. You will always hit the bump in the road, no matter which road you take: easy or rough.

The difference between the easy road and the rough? On the rough road, you will learn to overcome and even greet your fears and your problems. You will develop coping skills that will allow you to not curl up in a ball and cry every single time something goes wrong.

rough roadThe rough road teaches you how to put on your big person britches and move on. It teaches you that a hurdle is just a hurdle and not the end of the road. It teaches you that you have the strength to move forward, even when all seems hopeless.

The easy road may get you to where you THINK you want to be with minimum challenges and everything coming up roses.

The rough road will allow you to prove to yourself, and everyone else, that you are worthy of the goal that you have reached.

And after a trip down a rough road, nothing in the world is sweeter than reaching the star that you had the audacity and courage to reach for.

Do a great job and get fired. Huh?

I am an advocate of public schooling.  I don’t believe in home schooling as I don’t believe that it is regulated enough. I speak from experience.  I knew some folks who “home schooled” their children but the dad could only count to 21 with both shoes off and his pants down.  His wife could manage 22, but she had to be shirtless.

You guffaw, but I’m not kidding.

I have also known parents that are amazing home schoolers and they do a terrific job with their kids.  But it’s seriously hit or miss.  And here, in New Jersey, there is almost NO regulation on who teaches their children. 

I have serious issues with that.

However, this post isn’t about that.  It’s about the public school system that is in serious need of an overhaul.  I’m not stating that I think that the public school system in this country (and especially in some states) isn’t in dire trouble. 

I know it is.

In fact, this story out of California illustrates this very fact.

*Before we start with the bashing of California, I wish to tell you all that I graduated High School out there and that my senior English teacher, Mrs. Baker, was responsible for my being able to write pretty well.  I’ve honed that talent since then, but she was my basis.  So, no bashing my public school education, K? (A little shout out to all my Wheatland High peeps~*muah*)

Everyone is broke these days, and I understand fully that budget cuts mean that jobs have to be cut.  I don’t agree with it and in a perfect world our schools would be a number one priority for everyone.  But this is just the reality of our country right now.

So, last hired, first fired, right?

Why?

This woman, Michelle Apperson,  was named Sacramento’s Teacher of the Year and she got FIRED.

Ready for why our schools are failing?  I’ll give it to you in a direct quote from the school district spokesperson:

School spokesperson Gabe Ross told News 10 that who gets laid off is mandated by state law and is based on seniority, not performance.   *underlining mine*

What the hell kind of thing is this?  Why is the person that performs the best laid off?  I understand it, but it logically doesn’t make any sense. 

Now, don’t start screaming about unions and stuff.  I don’t want this to devolve into a political discussion.

I just wanted to point out the absolute, utter lack of logic applied to this situation.

And there are laws to make this happen.

Wow.

The injustice of this, to the teacher and to the children that she could have been shaping, is palpable. 

I seriously have a bad taste in my mouth.

The fact is, the education system needs an overhaul.  And that won’t happen until the politicians in every single state house and in Congress understand, fully, that public school is where 90% of their country is being educated and assign it the importance that they seem to assign to my uterus or my BMI.

We need to make them hear what we are saying.  They need to understand that not all of us can afford to send our kids to the schools that they are sending their children on my dime.

I want my dime to go to MY children and to MY community for their education and their future.

I want teachers like Ms. Apperton to keep her job and influence so many little, maleable minds.

This is a disgusting shame.  Truly.

 

 

It’s finished.

I’ve been going to school off and on for the last 20 years. I changed a major and then joined the military, got married, had a child, went overseas.  This is where I started my next round of college with an esteemed college in the northeast.  For the last 12 years I have been with this institution and I just completed my last formal essay for my bachelor’s degree.

This was no small feat.  Raising two children, having a husband that is gone a lot because of his job, moving houses because of his job – it takes out of a girl.  Add to this the fact that I am bi-polar and it makes it doubly hard.

I signed up for my last four classes this summer knowing that I could finish by tomorrow (Aug 21) and be done with the formal part of my education.  I have to test out of one class (somehow I missed taking a 200 level course) and I’ll be finished with my degree.

Then he asked me for a divorce.  It was completely unexpected, especially considering that just two weeks before we had taken a nice family vacation to the Shore and had made plans for the upcoming year and his retirement.  It caught me totally off guard.

I spent the next month in a tailspin and didn’t attend my online courses like I should have.  I finally bit the bullet (a big deal for me since I’m more like an ostrich) and emailed my instructors with what had happened.  They were all very kind and allowed me to submit papers late to make sure that I didn’t fail.  One of my teachers was kind of curt with me until I posted in the classroom some of what I had been going through.  She sent me an email saying that she was proud that I had stuck it out with all that was going on in my life.

To be honest, I’m proud of myself.

The work wasn’t the best I have ever done (the essays, especially) and I actually recycled some papers I had done a couple of semesters ago (something I had never, ever done in the past) but I was desperate to pass these classes.  If I didn’t pass, I didn’t finish and I would have lost my grant and had to pay back money.

Not an option.

So I busted my ass for the last two weeks, turned out somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 papers and got it all done on time.  I turned in the final paper yesterday at 11:35 p.m., a full 25 minutes before it was due.

I am rightly proud of myself.  If it wasn’t so late, I would have gone outside and yelled it to the heavens!

I may be forgotten, I may be in the process of getting divorced, but I am educated, by damn!

And that is something that I will forever be proud of!