Yes, we are still on the Yellowbrick Road to The Emerald Steel City.
The past few weeks have been a reminder to me that our journey back to Pittsburgh really is mirroring The Wizard of Oz. Just like Dorothy, I feel like I have been in a cyclone and dropped into a new and semi-strange land. I haven’t posted in so long because my free time has been spent getting reacquainted with my home state and the education system there. Since I left in 1993, so many things have changed it makes my head spin just to think about it.
First, there are two more criminal clearances than when I first earned my certificate to teach in PA. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly do not mind submitting to them and want school children to be safe from predators. I applied and paid for the first one online. Simple and convenient. I’m all clear and safe to teach. Yeah! I can check that one off the list. However, the second one required a list of all of my addresses and all of the people with whom I have lived since 1975. Yes, since 1975! In 1975, I was . . . well never mind how old I was but it was very, very young. Also, do the boyfriends of my college roommates count because a couple of them NEVER seemed to go home? Needless to say it took forFREAKINGever to make sure that document was accurate. I even had to use Google Earth to check on a few addresses. Then, this one had to be snail mailed and paid for with a money order – Do money orders still exist?? Apparently, so – who knew? I guess I’ve gotten too complacent with my newfangled, fancy-pants check writing and credit card using.
The last one, an FBI background check must be done in PA. Again, I’m completely willing to submit to this and any other check they want to do. But it makes me very anxious to wait until we travel to PA for the holidays. My ducks or flying monkeys, or whatever are not getting in a row quickly enough. This definitely does not remind me of a dancing welcome from the Lullaby League or the Lollipop Guild.
Then there is the matter of my teaching certificate. I started out with a certificate to teach Social Studies in Grades 7-12. Through my fourteen years teaching in NC, I have had the opportunity to add more areas of certification and, of course, would like the flexibility to apply for jobs in any of them. Easier said than done. The good news- I still have a certificate in PA; and the bad news- I have to get it out of hock from the bureaucratic pawnshop called Inactive Status.
Like all states, NC requires teachers to complete professional development credits for certificate renewal. However, here it takes an Act of Congress for these credits to count toward your teaching license if you take college courses. PD monies are given directly to each principal so on site classes are scheduled and in most cases teacher are required to attend. The long and short of it – I cannot turn in my pawn slip for my PA certificate yet because although I have taken billions of credits here, they were not the right kind of credits. BTW -is it a slip or ticket, all I know about pawn shops I learned watching Law and Order. Hmmm, sounds like a good title for a book. Anyway, I have to successfully complete 180 hours of PD credits to even be allowed back in the pawn shop, i.e. apply for my certificate to be changed to active status. Only then will a district in PA consider my application.
I know you are thinking, “Why didn’t she just go to grad school like all the teachers in PA?” Well, the answer is simple, but that is another blog for another day.
I also had to face the fact that if I was applying for other jobs, I would have to tell my references. I postponed this step for a long time fearing the worst. After all, I enjoy seeing and working with and for these folks everyday. It could get uncomfortable and I do not need any extra stress in my life . Thankfully, the two most important people the Mayor of Munchkin land and the Wiz were very understanding. One even said, “It will be close to impossible to replace you, but do what you need to do, and let me know how I can help.” Amazing.
BTW – the spell check knew that Munchkin and land should be separated but I had to get a money order for the background check.
Also just like Dorothy, when I pulled an apple off a tree, I was startled to find out that I would get more than I bargained for. One hundred and eighty hours of professional development is apparently equivalent to 6 graduate courses. It seemed easy enough to remedy that, just take 2 classes. I spent a few weeks searching for a grad school and more importantly, $$$$$ to pay for classes. Also, with a husband that travels for work, no relatives close by and sketchy babysitting resources, physically going to classes is out of the question. Plus, I’m lucky to leave school with enough energy to drive home and get everyone fed, watered and ready for the next day. Online was the only way to go but I still do not have that much extra $$$$$$$$$ (way more than I expected to need) sitting around.
I haven’t been able to settle on a school or program yet because it brought up a new set of issues with one of my other NC teaching certifications. Apparently, I have to be offered a job in this field before I can apply for a PA certificate in it – ummmmm, maybe it is just me but it seems very unlikely that I would seem qualified to get an offer for such a job without a the credentials to teach it. Seriously, is it just me?
Thankfully, after getting the runaround from many of the folks who are paid to help guide me, I stumbled upon my own personal Glinda. HE probably rather go by Glenn the Good Witch of Pittsburgh so we’ll go with that. When others referred me back to the office that pelted me with apples when I went to pick one, Glenn kindly explained the intricate nature of how and why the specialized certificate was different and what to watch for as I tried to navigate through the rest of my journey.
More good news – since I went to college in PA and have a certificate there although it is inactive, I can take advantage of the online PD classes that they offer for free. Yes, that is right, FREE. There are not enough courses for me to complete the entire 180 hours but it is certainly a good start. You work at your own pace whatever time of day or night you can fit into your schedule. I have to admit, it is really great planning on the part of the state but I imagine that is the difference between places with too many qualified teachers and not enough. Way to go PA!
The Yellow Brick roller coaster, has been my life the past few weeks. One minute I think that the ride is exciting and the next being sure our plan to move back was flying off the rails. I hope we get to the Field of Poppies soon, I need some rest.
West End Girl