Sunday, June 28, 2015



This word appeared in large white letters on the black t-shirts my 5th grade boys basketball team wore. Their coach taught them that to be a team, the most important part was not having the best skills but to trust each other. Through that trust and teamwork, their skills would get them to having a successful basketball season. Trust was their focus.

I've been thinking a lot about trust this week as I change jobs again. Last year, I was hired to work in DCPS as a teacher. Now I am switching to Arlington County Public Schools to live and work in the same town. So in the passed year I have filled out all the forms and jumped through all the hoops to be hired by 2 school systems. And it seems that the first step for both of these school systems is to allow me to prove to them who I am in order to earn their trust.

In DC, I had a friend who invited me in for an interview and then back on another day to teach a model lesson. At the same time, I filled out the DCPS online form for a teaching job. It required lots of fill in answers, an essay about why I want to be a teacher and required that I film myself teaching a lesson and upload it to the website. I also answered questions asked of me over the phone by an HR representative. I was fingerprinted in the HR office. Then I was sent to an office in another part of the city to pee into a cup for a drug test. Then I had to go to minute-clinic to get a TB test. Then my friend introduced me to another school and I was invited to teach a model lesson for them. I taught an hour writing lesson to 25 fifth graders with 8 adults watching and then chatted with the adults for another hour. After receiving their job offer, I was able to enroll in a family health plan. It took until May for my paycheck to arrive by direct deposit into my checkling account. I never was able to access the online account to see my evaluations by the Adminstration. And I've tried to resign but still haven't officially because I need to be able to get into that online account. I guess come July, I'll spend a morning on the phone trying to resign.

In Arlington, I applied online. I filled in lots of short answers and one essay.  They asked for me to upload my resume and teaching certificates but the files were too large so I went in person to ask the HR office to add them for me. Then daily I was to check to see when jobs were posted and once posted, I could click to be considered for a job. Apparently in Arlington a Principal is not to talk to you unless these steps are followed. Luckily for me I had friends already working in Arlington who told me that a job in their school was just posted, prompting me to apply. I interviewed. It was a 30 minute discussion with the Principal and the tech specialist. We sat around a table and I answered their questions and showed them my teaching portfolio. Two days later, I was offered the job and had 3 days to sign the contract and return it to HR. Then I received a packet of forms from HR and made an appointment to be processed. I was fingerprinted and told to return with my forms completed. The forms included sharing information for direct deposit so I feel confident that my Arlington checks will be directly deposited from the start. I had to prove I was married (show marriage license) and had a child (show birth certificate) so I can have a family health plan. Even though I tested negative for TB last June, they need a test within a year of my August employment so another TB test needs to be administered.

So many hoops to jump through to get a job.

I understand why. Being a teacher is a job where I am working with children and I need to be checked out so children can be entrusted to my care.

Looking back on my hiring experiences, some things were the same (fingerprinting to do a criminal check) and many things are different (being watched teaching a lesson vs a 30 min conversation and just listing family members names vs having to prove I am married to insure my husband). But I jumped through all the hoops. I now will work for Arlington County Public School as a teacher. Frankly, this job in Arlington must work out because I'm tired of applying for jobs.

Having to prove who you are to strangers is tiring.
Unfortunately, in today's world it isn't enough to just wear a TRUST t-shirt when it comes to applying for a teaching position.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Walking the High Line

June 21, 2015

My husband and I climbed the flight of switchback, metal stairs at 24th and 10th Avenue. At the top, we viewed a crowd walking in pairs, some moving to the right, some to the left, on this elevated, garden path. Beautiful foliage surrounded each side of the track and we turned to walk downtown. Our destination: The new Whitney Museum. It forms the ending corner of the High Line at 14th Street.

As we walked, I was reminded of that saying, "If we build it, they will come." And we did! We came to see this garden path, to enjoy the flowers and have a chance to walk and enjoy the outdoors in a city covered mostly in asphalt and concrete and tall buildings. To the right is the Hudson River. When I look far out, I can see the outline of the Statue of Liberty. To the left, the spire of the Empire State Building peeks above all else. Then at the end is a new look - The Whitney which just opened a month ago. It moved from its location by the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As we took the stairs down to the street level again, people were everywhere. So crowded.

My friend told me he used to live in this neighborhood in the early 90s while he was in grad school. Then it was the meatpacking district,"Rent was cheap," he said. "Also, it was a huge hangout for the transgender community and it wasn't a safe neighborhood to walk around in at night."

Now the tracks are a tourist destination. Now the museum is another tourist-friendly destination. All the old meatpacking plants are being renovated into hip, new bars and loft apartments. And the rents do not look cheap due to all the new, modern apartment buildings being built.

In just 15 years, a neighborhood has been rebornand I visited it on Sunday while in New York City. I'm happy that an outdoor garden space has been created. I'm happy that so many come to enjoy it. I do wonder where the old inhabitants now live?