Last year, I made a big career move by switching from Mesquite ISD to Crandall ISD. Big move meaning less pay, less resources, went from 34 elementary schools in the district to 4, went from a support role with less stress to the classroom which meant more preparation…a lot of change! Now that the year is over I can say it was the right move, but I still miss Mesquite greatly; it was my home and still where I feel the most me.
But looking back here is a list of some of the biggest changes:
1. Resources- no printer in my room, a rough curriculum that was new, no chart paper readily available, one person was the go to for all the curriculum needs vs having department heads. All of this obviously due to size…this district is growing, but some of these perks are not needed yet.
2. Freedom- freedom to make your plans as you see fit, to try new ideas, to leave on time, to focus on teaching and not testing. Returning to the classroom could have only been done if I could reduce the stress and this district was the answer.
3. Respect-at my campus families still respect the profession. Behavior was awesome because parents would punish if not. Parent phone calls made a difference; the student behavior was to blame and not the teacher. The community valued the profession…lots of respect for this passion I pursue.
4. Pride- Mesquite has pride, but with so many schools that pride is spread out. So many great schools leads for lots of ways to shine which Mesquite often will, but this small town vibe sends all their students to one high school which leads to one big ball of CHS pride. I will love this in the future when I want to see former students and know where to find them.
5. Purpose- there is purpose at both but in Mesquite I knew mine daily. There you are more than a teacher..you are life. More is expected of you emotionally and spiritually. Your coworkers are your soldiers fighting the urban education battle of poverty with you. I was emotionally fatigued daily but I was needed, changing lives and doing the impossible daily.
6. Connection..this will be the last reflection, but the smaller district gets you connected quicker. We meet as a whole district to cheer each other on, parades and pep rallies are attended by the town, Friday night lights is a thing, the admin knows you by name and make sure to address your concerns…the lack of Title One money means there is not as much stuff, but the relationship of knowing who you are is powerful.
The purpose one often has me question if I will return to Mesquite or at least a campus in this district that is more needy..maybe even middle school someday, but for now I am trying to remember I did my 14 years in the trenches and it is now time to see a different side. Still tough, still needed, still so much work but with some benefits so I do not get burnt out.
If you are thinking about switching districts, my advice is think about the location, money and then your health. Decide what you can balance. I am fortunate we could take the pay cut. The new location limits us since my family and our activities are in Mesquite plus Crandall is limited on food and shopping. We drive a lot, but at least not in the morning like I used to do for two years commuting to work. Being in the classroom is long hours, but adding driving time means you are away from home even more. For me, it came down to health. Even when I was crying because I missed my support system and school where I was known and loved…I knew I was healthier because I was less stressed and had help when I needed it. Lupus is a disease triggered by stress and I need the less stress possible. Being in the classroom filled my passion, but it also brought back work only a classroom teacher could know.
I encourage you to pray to God about where he can use you and then obey. When it is all happening then you will have peace if you are in his will. Even during the tough times then you will know God led you here and He is with you.