Education Opinion

I’m Thankful for the Lousy School Job on My Resume

By Marilyn Rhames — November 21, 2012 2 min read
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I stumbled across my resume the other day and examined every major place I’ve worked in the past. I took a moment to reflect on my experience at each school and each journalistic publication. I paused over each university listed, each honor bestowed upon me.

I recalled the mountainous triumphs and the deep, dark valleys of despair. At times I was full of fiery optimism and there were phases when I could barely bring myself to get out of the bed. I thought about the loved ones I had lost while working at this job and that, and each child I had birthed while working here and there.

Then I realized something: My resume was very much like my eulogy, except details of my personal life were missing. Though each experience on the paper wasn’t pleasant, I realized that it helped me get to where I am today, molding me into the person I am today. That made me overwhelmingly thankful.

Looking over my resume—shall I say, my professional, living eulogy—also made me think deeply about the future direction of my career. If my resume is truly a reflection of my ambitions, what exactly do I want to do with my life? Do I want to still be teaching middle school writing 10 years from now? Or do I want to have five books published by then? Will I travel back to Africa to provide spiritual, physical, and educational support to orphans and widows in the village? Or will I be diligently focused on building up my nonprofit organization?

These are sobering questions, for I realize that tomorrow is not promised to me (or to anyone). So as I look to the future, I intentionally try to make the best of today, knowing that my present place of employment is part of my life’s story, building my character, teaching me vital lessons I need to internalize for the next leg of my journey.

That’s why my resume resonated enormous gratefulness. I cherish my current school; my middle school teammates are like family, and I love them so much. My principal is innovative, encouraging, and courageous—and the hardest working person I have ever known! I won’t pretend like I haven’t hit rough patches during my five years here, but I have acquired so many valuable skills that it’s all been worth it.

The reality is, however, that I would have never ended up at this school if I hadn’t just had the most terrible year of teaching at another school. I was so emotionally damaged that I broke down and cried my eyes out during my first interview. (I still got the job!) Those absurdly difficult experiences at my old school turned up my passionate resolve that public education in the inner city had to get better. The crisis that I experienced, the things that I saw, fueled my outrage and set me on a mission I never thought I’d accept: achieving genuine education reform.

My editor at Education Week Teacher told me that I could take the Thanksgiving week off from blogging. But I just couldn’t pass up this ideal opportunity to express my gratitude to him for the platform, and to you, the reader.

Thank you, my beloved reader! Every month, several thousands of you take a few minutes to read my blog.* I may not know your name but I know you’re out there, clicking on my page. I truly appreciate your time and your interest. Thank you for your emails, posted comments, and linkbacks.

In fact, I just updated my resume, and you are now my most impressive reference!


*updated 11/22/12

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The opinions expressed in Charting My Own Course are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.