Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dr. J

Pragmatism has been my guiding force for the last 20 years. Every decision I make is weighed out and measured, and only when the practical choice becomes clear do I move forward. I could fill a page of all the things I've done or rather settled for because it was the practical, read safe, thing to do.

When I first learned that I was going to be laid off from Montessori, I went into a tailspin. Montessori is what I'm trained to do; it's what I'm good at; I love it. If I failed at that, what the hell should I do next? I knew I couldn't pick up and move to another state where the Montessori jobs are. That's not practical at all. Besides, I have a moral obligation to help the children have a father in their lives. He's in Oregon, so we stay in Oregon.

With no Montessori jobs to be had here and without a regular teaching license, I knew teaching was over for me. 6+ years of school and work down the drain. So demoralizing. In a complete panic I decided to take up a new vocation. I would be a bookkeeper: I like math, going back to school means student loans to live on, and it's a very practical and marketable skill. I could get a 2-year degree at the community college. I enrolled and took classes summer term. Done. The only problem? I don't want to be a fucking bookkeeper. "Best not to think about it. Let's go get a cheeseburger and fries."

At the end of the summer came the transformative trip to San Francisco. On the last day, I was lying in bed and Cory comes and climbs in with me. (After kicking Adam out for the day, which was ridiculously kind because if you've seen Adam you know nobody in their right mind would kick his hotness out.) We starting talking about all the things I was going to have to do, move in with my parents (That's a whole other blog), leave education, be unemployed, whine, whine, whine. Cory started telling me about his mom and the work that she does at the University of Oregon. She has a PhD in Education and works with advanced technology in the classroom. I got very excited and animated talking about education with him: my beliefs, my politics, what I would like to see for the future. For the first time, it began to dawn on me that maybe I didn't want to leave education. But a PhD? That's the most impractical thing imaginable. I would never consider it. No way.

Cory sent me home with a seed planted in my head and the contact information for his mom. I decided, what have I got to lose? I called Candy and asked her out to lunch. At first, on the phone, she explained how stupid it would be to go for a PhD when you are a single mom and have two young children at home. Uh, ok? Then she said, what the hell, I'll answer your questions. We went out to lunch and had a FANTASTIC conversation. I remembered why I went into education in the first place, I got excited about what Candy is working on, and I saw myself taking the path of getting a doctorate and working in education research. Long story short, Candy offered me a job in her department as a research assistant, which will lead me into a PhD program with her as my advisor! I left that lunch renewed. I'm going to get a doctorate. I'm going to do what I set out to do in the beginning: change the face of American education.


  1. Wow, Jen! What a path! So you're working on your PhD?! That's awesome...How is it going as a research assistant on a college campus? I bet it's a little different than a 9-12 classroom?! You are definitely a "go-getter"...whatever you put your mind to, you are very successful at. That's something I admire about you! Look at the year of Montessori Training :) Sure do miss you!

  2. I'm SO EXCITED!!!!!
    1. You *belong* in education
    2. Your brain needs that PhD stimulation. You will be awesome
    3. Oh, there's more more more, but suffice it to say that you're catching up to yourself, to where you belong. I'm so happy for you.