I got so much sleep last night! Nearly five hours. Seriously, I was excited.
I had to get up early because there was going to be a hiring fair in the afternoon, so I had to look really nice. Fortunately, it wasn’t raining at all today, so the humidity wasn’t quite as problematic for my hair as I was expecting it to be.
I left my dorm at a good time, but we were meeting somewhere new this time and I went in the wrong direction. In my defense, I was looking at the wrong dorm designation on my map, which is why I found myself staring at a wall of trees where there should have been a parking lot and path. Worried, I turned myself around and fortunately ran into everyone else who was just as lost as I was. We wandered together en-masse for several minutes (of the three FMU students we asked for directions, one hadn’t heard of the building we wanted and the other two sent us in the wrong direction) until we finally found the place. At least none of us had to face being late on our own. There is safety in numbers, never let anyone tell you otherwise!
The morning began with a talk about “Respect and Humility” as a new teacher — not to go in with assumptions about how others view you, either for good or for bad. It was followed up by a Q&A session regarding Institute. There was a break (the auditorium was freezing, so must of us girls cloistered outside in the hot sun) and then an overview of our role as Americorps members (you’re not really given a choice about whether you want to join or not, but since by joining you can earn over $10,000 in educational awards, why would you not want to?) and we turned in the relevant paperwork for that.
There was another break until 11:00 a.m., during which time I found the room I would be interviewing in (my interview was scheduled for 2:30 p.m.). I had expected the hiring fair to be a form of speed dating where the interviewers would sit at a table and we’d get five minutes to talk with each one or something. Instead, I had exactly one interview with Lake City College Preparatory Academy. Lake City was where we had dinner yesterday. There would be a couple of people interviewing with them after me, but those people had second interviews, too, whereas Lake City was my only one. I hoped that meant Lake City had preferenced me or something and not that other school districts didn’t want me.
I found the room, which was open even though there was no one inside, and sat down in a chair to test it out. That may seem weird to some people, but some chairs slope backwards and others are really rigid, and it’s nice to know how a chair will seat you before your interview. For instance, if I sat with my back against this chair, I would have been almost reclined. I would have to sit up away from the back. However, because the seat had a dip, I would also have to sit leaning forward slightly in order to not look scrunched. It was a small thing, but I knew I would have more confidence as a result of having tried it out.
There was some time left, so I whipped out my computer and did some quick research on Lake City College Preparatory Academy. It sounded like a pretty neat place! It’s focus was on learning through a strong commitment to the creative arts, and it had a drama, chorus, dancing, and band program, in addition to its normal K-10 instruction. It was a charter school that had opened in 2010, so it was fairly new. I had put on my resume that I was a #1 Amazon Bestselling Author, and how one of my interests was ballroom dancing, so I really hoped that they would like me, as the school sounded like a wonderful fit. I had been planning to put keyboards in my classroom and had been trying to figure out how I would fit musical instruction into my normal curricula (since according to what I’d been told, most schools wouldn’t have a music program), but this school already had instruction like that in place! My only regret was that a lot of the school’s website links led to blank pages, so I couldn’t learn all that I wanted to.
At 11:00 am, I and half of the other corps members (last names J-W would go later) met with a representative from the South Carolina Department of Education in order to fill out/turn in the paperwork we would need to get certified as teachers. I had put my papers together before leaving California, so it was really easy for me.
After that, I headed across the way to Founders Hall where the South Carolina fingerprinting session would take place. This time it was electronic (LiveScan?) rather than ink, which was certainly less messy, though oddly not much faster. The computer analyzes your prints to see if they’re acceptable quality, and gives them a score out of 100. I suppose it speaks to the achiever in me that I was disappointed that my fingers scored only a 98!
I was done now until my interview, but lunch was still twenty minutes away. I was burdened by my computer bag and paperwork bag, so I decided to drop them off at my dorm first. I did not get lost this time, although much of the credit for that goes to another corps member who walked back with me.
My feet were killing me, so I eagerly took off my heels and slid my feet into some slippers. My heels used to be wonderful, but now they were old and the insides were coming off the base (they still looked good from the outside, though). I’d tried to glue the soles back down once before, but they still had little ridges left on them that liked to cause blisters on my feet. I wanted to rip off the soles completely and try to reglue them, but I couldn’t find the superglue I thought I had packed.
Lunch was again delicious (chicken stir-fry and bread rolls). I’m really liking this chicken theme, as it’s the only meat I eat (aside from turkey).
Back at my dorm, I researched LCCPA through its website a little more, but didn’t learn much else. Somehow, I resisted the urge to review practice interview questions, and just redid my hair, which had starting to frizz after a morning’s activities. Regretfully slipping back into my heels, I walked the fifteen minutes to the interview room.
My Lake City interviewers were supposed to be sharing a room with those from Darlington county. Darlington was already there, though the head interviewer had not shown up yet. Lake City didn’t arrive until about 2:45 p.m., so I sat on a bench outside the door to wait for them. When they got there, I stood up to introduce myself, but then had to sit back down while they went inside to prepare. A minute later, they called me in.
There were three women sitting on one side of a table waiting for me. One of them was the principal of LCCPA, the other was the assistant principal, and the third was in charge of team leading/resources (I think. Her title was long and I don’t quite remember it all). I put my hand on the back of a seat, and they invited me to sit down.
I won’t go into too much detail about the interview, though I will say that I think/hope/pray that it went very well. LCCPA sounds like a place that I would really like to be at. I was pretty nervous at first (I don’t really get “butterflies” like other people do; instead, the corners of my mouth start to twitch, which makes it rather difficult to maintain a smile), but I relaxed more as the interview went on. The interviewers were speaking softer than I was accustomed to (probably because we were sharing the room), so I found myself speaking really softly and had to remind myself to speak up. Towards the end of the interview, the principal talked a little bit about the school and its beliefs regarding the treatment of children (complete opportunity, credence, and compassion), and I found myself nodding a lot. I was worried that she would think I was just agreeing for the sake of agreement, but I honestly believed everything she was saying. One of the women remarked that she could hear in my vocabulary that I’d done a lot of research, and I wasn’t sure if she intended that to be a compliment or a criticism (was she subtly wondering if I was “all theory and no fact?”) I know I like to talk about things I’ve read a lot (though I’d mostly refrained from doing so in the interview), but I believe in knowing as much as you can about whatever it is you’re going to be doing, as only then can you make informed decisions as to the best approach. I told her that, and she seemed to understand.
When the interview was done, we shook hands and I asked if I should send in the next person. I left the room feeling confident with how the interview had gone, and hopeful that they’d want me for the job. I mused over it as I walked back to my dorm and ended up missing my turn. I wound up at the dining hall and had to circle all the way around it before I could get my bearings.
It was about 3:30 p.m. by now and dinner wasn’t until 6:00 p.m., so I had some free time. I wrote about my experiences for an hour and then took an hour nap. I immediately fell asleep and was quite loath to get up when my alarm sounded. Back in my professional clothes (nice dress, tights, and heels) I headed over to the dining hall where we were supposed to meet some guest students and their teachers. Our table’s guests never showed up, though, which was really disappointing.
One of the corps members at my table used to be in the Army (I think). He was rather intimidating to talk to, as he expressed his thoughts quite forcefully. For instance, a corps member got pulled over today for accidentally making an illegal U-turn in an unfamiliar area, and I wondered aloud if she had thought to ask the police officer for a warning. I was quickly and unambiguosly informed that if you’re pulled over in South Carolina, you never ever EVER ask for a warning (something they teach you to do in California), and that you’ll get ticketed if you go even 1 mph over the speed limit (“because you’re breaking the law”). If my dad helps me drive my stuff over to South Carolina at some point, I will definitely have to warn him about that!
(Incidentally, as an aside, yesterday I saw South Carolina’s version of firetrucks for the first time. They’re just normal pickup trucks, except that their tail lights blink. If the cop cars are similar, I would be terrified of being pulled over. I’ve read (there I go again!) enough incidents in the news and from personal accounts about getting pulled over by fake cops (these victimizers will often go so far as to buy uniforms and fake badges)…imagine if you can’t even tell a cop car from a normal car! It’s far too easy to buy flashing lights. I was taught growing up that if you’re not sure about the identity of a car, you keep driving until you’re in a well-lit area like a gas station. Based on what the man said, though, that wouldn’t fly here, but I think I would still do it and just risk the ticket.
Dinner was chicken alfredo. There were some other selections, but all I cared about was the alfredo. And chocolate cake. There was a huge slab waiting for us at our spots when we sat down, and we had to endure the sight/smell of it for half an hour until we were given permission to start eating.
There was a TFA mentor at our table, and I casually remarked at one point that I thought the dinners here were a little long (as with the previous days’ meals, this one was over two hours in duration). I was sternly informed by the corps member beside me that this was the length of a typical meal in the South, and that I would need to learn to relax and enjoy it or else I would be seen as unsociable and rude. <Sigh>. This was going to be quite hard. In college, if I was eating alone, I would often finish my meal within 5–10 minutes (I wasn’t eating fast or lightly, just methodically). When with friends, meals would often last for 30 minutes to 1 hour, but almost never longer. Even at family reunions where everyone was eating and talking together, we never sat down at table for more than an hour to an hour and a half. To do so felt so unnatural to me that it was almost painful. Still, I will continue to try (even if it makes me feel like I want to cry).
After everyone was done eating, the teachers introduced their students and spoke a little bit about what made them so special. Then we were excused to continue talking or to go back to our dorm. I lingered for about 10 minutes because no one else was leaving (a few corps members expressed to me that they wanted to leave, but felt that they shouldn’t because no one else was), but the strain of being social for so long was beginning to tell, so I smiled and said my farewells and left.
Once more in my room, I cast aside the injurious heels and sat down to finish up today’s blog entry. I also tried to look for some apartments in Lake City in case I got the job, but there were no details online about that type of lodging except for some names.
My eyes were stinging, and with all my obligations now successfully discharged, I could finally go get cleaned up. I may actually get to bed before 1:00 a.m. tonight — yay!