Sunday, February 16, 2014

My Life Before Sewing

I mentioned in my first post that I used to be a teacher and a curriculum writer. I thought I'd share a little bit more about my life before my addiction to sewing took over.

After graduating from college I started a middle school teaching job in a K-12 school about 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia. To be honest, I wasn't thrilled at first to be hired to teach middle school. I'd hoped to land a high school job, but since I had majored in Cultural Anthropology/African Studies, many schools didn't think I was prepared enough to teach high school level English. This turned out to be a good thing, though, as my college career and my summer jobs did prepare me well for working with middle schoolers, who are a lot like some exotic cultural group that outsiders (ie, adults) are encountering for the first time. I actually used my ethnographic training quite often, and I think I was pretty successful. I also came to really, really enjoy middle schoolers. Much more so than high schoolers, whom I did have an opportunity to teach later on. After my stint at my first school in Philadelphia, I got a master's in education, taught middle school history again at a different K-12 school in Providence, RI, and then turned in a slightly different direction.

For a year I worked in what most people would call an "inner city school." I headed to Boston to lead one of the school-based programs funded by a US Department of Education grant which was designed to give underserved middle schoolers (again with those young teens!) an early start on preparing for and gaining awareness of college. There I hired a staff of afterschool tutors to offer extra academic help to all the students I could get my hands on at that school, developed an academic summer program, and took students on college visits around the city. While I think we were helpful and planted some good seeds, I found the bureaucracy of dealing with the US Dept of Education, the Boston Public Schools, the school in which I worked, and the local college which was my official employer to be just too much. It was hard to get things done with so many different entities to report to and satisfy all the time.

So I made another small adjustment and moved back to Providence to work at the Choices Program at Brown University. Choices develops curricula on world history and current international events for use in high schools. What a brilliant place for a person like me to work. Every time I explained what I did to teachers they swooned. About half my job was teaching teachers how to use the curricular materials we wrote, and about half was actually writing those materials. I had a very cushy office in a brand new building, really wonderful and incredibly dedicated colleagues, and I got to research and write about interesting world topics ALL THE TIME. Two of the biggest projects I worked on while there were a unit on South Africa

When my daughter was born I decided it was best for my sanity and her early childhood for me to stay home. Sooner or later I will go back to working in education, but working full time and managing a household of five while commuting three hours a day simply doesn't work. So now I'm a full time mom and a part time business owner. The deadlines I impose are my own. HG doesn't even realize I have a job besides her, which I think is good, although pretty soon she is going to start wondering why there are so many piles and piles of fabric! Certainly she will figure out it's not all ending up as clothes in her closet!

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