My journey to shoot for the moon.

Chris’ Cancer and Me

Yesterday, I went for Orientation for Substitute Teaching.  Meeting new people has never been easy for me.  As a kid, people took my “shyness” as being “stuck up.”  But I don’t think that I was really stuck up, just overly anxious.

When we moved to Colorado, I really made a personal effort to “re-create” myself.  I tried hard to smile and introduce myself.  I may have been quiet, but I really took the time to appear approachable and friendly.  And I think for the most part, I have succeeded.

Then came Chris’ diagnosis.  How do you talk with people you don’t know about your kids, job and life without mentioning such a big part of our lives?  It is tough to figure out when to share that information.  Sometimes I don’t.  And sometimes I do.  I go with my gut.  But it is really hard, because I don’t want to scare people away with too much information too soon, but. . .

Anyway, yesterday I attended Orientation.  I got their early and picked a seat.  Michael’s Science/Health teacher (who is a retired teacher and works teaching as a result of a Planning Time Grant) sat down next to me.  Of course, with nearly 1,000 students, he had no clue who I was.  I introduced myself and we chatted for a while.  That was the extent of my “socialization” during the Orientation.

After the Orientation, I stuck around waiting because I needed to fill out a Curriculum Choice page.  This is the page that they use when they enter all of your information into the system and it determines what jobs you can “see” in the system and take.  Obviously, I am interested in SPED jobs, but I had to indicate what other subjects/grades I would be interested in.  David’s band teacher said that he would use me as a sub, so I had to indicate Music (Vocal and Instrumental) or when he tries to request me, the system won’t allow it.  But chances are, I won’t take any Music jobs other than for his classroom.

When I finished filling out my form, I wanted to talk with the person from the Substitute Office and make sure that I was filling out the form so that I would be able to sub for a friend of mine who teaches Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  So, I waited.

When I had the chance to talk with KR (who is the person from the Substitute Office who would be my “manager” and the one who ran the orientation), she was so nice and friendly.  She let me know that, as a former employee, I would be making more money subbing than the general pay.    SPED is considered “hard to fill” for both teaching and subbing.  Sometimes they are desperate for subs who are willing to work with the SPED kids.  That is what I want to do and so it means that I will probably be able to work as much (or as little as I want).

Since I had KR’s attention, and I was the only sub left, I told her and MF (the other Substitute Office person) about Chris.  I wanted both of them to know that if I had to cancel a job it would most likely be last minute and that I was sorry.  I wanted them to know that I was a responsible person, but had “extenuating circumstances.”  And I wanted them to put my name and face together.

KR and MF were supportive and wonderful.  Both of them told me that I shouldn’t worry about it and that they would make sure that if I had an issue, it was taken care of.  MF came over and gave me a hug.  KR and I continued talking, and I told her about my experiences within the district.  For those of you who don’t know, here is a synopsis.

I was hired as an Significant Special Needs Educational Assistant in August 2007.  In February 2008 I was transferred to a different school (I moved with a student who was changing schools).  In June 2008 I was “displaced” and transferred to another school for the following school year.  In October 2008, I was transferred to a 4th school.  In June 2009 I was displaced again and transferred to another school for the following school year.  I worked the 2009-2010 school year and was again displaced at the end of the year and transferred to a 6th school.  For the 2010-2011 school year I worked at a single school and was RIF (reduction in force) at the end of the school year.

Originally, I was told by Human Resources that if I did not apply for positions (and find one) by July 1 I would be placed on a “recall” list for 90 days and could be recalled.  As I had obtained my Teaching License, and I wanted to teach rather than be an Educational Assistant, I decided that I would not apply and interview for EA positions.  At the end of June, I was informed by HR that I would not be recalled (no one would).  So, that was it.  My employment ended (actually it ended the last day of May).

As an employee who was involuntarily transferred so many times in my 4 years of employment, I felt that I shouldn’t have to apply and interview for EA positions.  I went where they told me to go and I thought that entitled me to some “special treatment.”  The original school that hired me had EAs that were hired way after me and had a lot less time in the district than I did.  So, if they hadn’t transferred me to another school during my first year, I would have had “seniority” at that school (every single EA I worked with at my hiring school has left the district – I am the only one who was still working for the district at the end of the 2010-2011 school year).

HR didn’t want to help.  And HR knew about Chris’ condition.

To Be Continued


Comments on: "Chris’ Cancer and Me" (4)

  1. I did the same thing but in the cafeteria. As flexible as I could be, I learned every position and moved through all 4 schools. In return, I was treated awful because I had suggestions to improve things that noone else was concerned about. Don’t even get me started on allergic reactions to food and noone being trained how to handle it.


  2. Hardship, frustration, anger and beyond come to mind in your situation Robin. You did all that was demanded of you … all that you could.


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