Sunday, July 25, 2010

TSS: 7.25.10

WOW --- July 25th.  Do you realize that it is just 5 months until Christmas?  My family is very familiar with my traditional chant, "Christmas will be here before you know it!" and I think that is probably just as true this year as any other.

I was taking part in my morning ritual of coffee and blogs when I came across Stacy's clever post entitled, Christmas in July.  She asked if any of us are organized enough to shop for Christmas gifts year around, or if we tend to wait until the week of December 20th.  This reminded me of the yahoo group to which I belonged, Christmas Notebook, where the 25th of every month was devoted to crafting for the holidays.  This could be making decorations for the house, or creating personalized gifts for loved ones.  I am never quite organized enough to keep up with Christmas throughout the year, but I do tend to start making lists in September and shopping in October, with the thought of completing most purchases on Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving).
I fear that this Christmas, however, will probably be a bit sparse in the gift giving department.  While Geoff and I are incredibly fortunate to have jobs, I anticipate a severe pay cut this semester.  As many of you know, I am an English teacher in a very small private school.  This school is rather unique in that it is a part of the Association of University Model Schools where students either take classes on Monday - Wednesday - Friday and/or Tuesday - Thursday.  In addition to this rather unique schedule, enrollment is cafeteria style, meaning that students can take as few or as many courses as they desire.  As a result, not only are teachers paid a small percentage of the typical public school salary (this is common for small private schools) BUT we are paid by the student.  To put this in perspective, last year I had about 90 students enrolled in my 6 classes and made a little over $20,000.  

On Wednesday I had a meeting at school and learned that so far this year my enrollment is less than half that number - about 40 students signed up for the 8 classes that I have consented to teach (I added two new classes, hoping to combat the anticipated lower enrollment figure).  I do anticipate more families signing up as the August 23rd start date approaches, but I do not expect anywhere near the number from last year.  If I didn't feel like this was truly a calling in my life, I would question my sanity.

So I find myself this week in a bit of an anxious state of mind.  On the one hand, I truly do want to continue to pursue the goal of "enjoying the journey" and taking pleasure in all the little blessings of life.  On the other hand, there are necessary expenses that must be met and I question whether I am doing the right thing by staying in a job that I love - but which does not compensate me well.  While I know that money is not everything, I would be naive to believe that it is not something.  So each morning I awake and give this problem over to the Lord --- and each evening I realize that I have taken it back again.  He is in control - He knows my situation better than I know it myself - He is all powerful and resourceful.  Why do I feel that He needs my help?!

A rather heavy post for a Sunday morning.  I had intended this to be a rather light reflection on the upcoming holiday season.  I suppose this is weighing on my mind more than I originally thought. 

So I will try to end the post on a more optimistic note.   My current calendar for the week shows NO scheduled appointments nor meetings nor chores nor errands.  In fact, it is completely open until August 12th!  While the weather in the Midwest continues to be too hot and humid to do much outdoor photography, I do hope to read some on the subject and begin to list possible subject matter for the August Break challenge.  In addition, I have started reading the textbook for the new English Composition class I will be teaching this fall (the class with my largest enrollment), and I hope to continue to make headway into writing the syllabus (I actually love the part of the job --- it is the grading of all those essays that I do not look forward to).  

I will probably not do much scrapbooking this week, but I do plan to scan all the photos for my daughter's album into the computer so that I have copies for myself.  I will try to organize all the collected supplies (papers and stickers and die cuts) so that when the fall comes, I will be ready to create lovely pages from the start.

In short, I plan to make the best of the two weeks left of summer vacation 2010.


  1. It can be hard to remember to enjoy the journey! Mr. BFR and I stopped giving each other gifts about 20 years ago. What a stress reducer! Maybe this a year to reassess the gift list -- many people are tightening their belts and may be relieved to stop exchanging gifts.

  2. Sometimes gifts that are homemade and from the heart are the best! And you are so creative! I have confidence that if you put your issues in God's hands, it will resolve itself. That is a tough decision to make.

  3. I could go on an hours long rant about how crazy it is that we don't pay our teachers more. I think you are right to keep leaning on the Lord and let things fall into place as they will. I know it is hard to trust in cases like this. The way you describe your classes and lessons tell me that you are a phenomenal teacher and one that your students will remember for a lifetime. That being said you have to make a living and cover expenses too. I'll be praying for you and your family that things will work out in the right way.

  4. Having a small group of interested students does sound like it would be rewarding, so I hope things work out for the best for you. I wish there had been a school like that close to us when our son was in high school.

  5. Your dilemma about your job sounds like a tough one. =/ I hope the decision you make is the right one for you. I can tell you're an amazing teacher and your students would be sorry to lose you.

    I'm a lazy shopper; I'm out at the last minute buying gifts! There are rare exceptions if I see something I know someone will love, but most often I put it off.

    Meghan @ Medieval Bookworm

  6. I hope things work out well with your job; any teacher as creative and dedicated as you should not have to worry! Sometimes, solutions come at the least expected moments...

    But boy, I cannot imagine thinking about Christmas now. I have trouble thinking about tomorrow now!
    Have a good week, Molly.

  7. I cannot help but think, that your situation with your job, is someone telling you that perhaps you need to pursue your writing. I know it is hard, but i cannot help but think you have a fabulous idea for writing and someone wants to encourage you to do it.

  8. Realizing break is almost over is always the biggest let down for me. I'm in the middle of 9 days off of work right now and I just realized this morning that I only have 3 full days left....what a downer. Now I'll probably ruin what's left by brooding over it, ha ha. I really need to stop this. :)

  9. Thinking about Christmas gives me a little anxiety, but I've gradually worked things out so that I only give gifts to the grandkids. And lately, they have all (but one) expressed their preference for gift cards, so that cuts down on the shopping. for decorating, that's simple, too. I have decorations I use from year to year, all packed away in the garage. The kids like to help.

    Hope your job situation works itself does sound like either way, there's an upside and a downside.

    Here's my salon:

  10. I can't imagine working that hard for that little pay without truly having a passion for what you do. I admire your devotion to your teaching.

  11. I know by your teacherly blog posts that you are a fabulous teacher. To me, teaching looks like your calling, your North Star. It wouldn't surprise me a bit that a door will open for you to teach at a different school and make twice what you're making now, for the same amount of time and effort. When that happens, say yes. It won't be out of greed, but because you truly deserve to earn more for your excellence.

  12. You are devoted, Molly, to your students and to teaching. You're right, though, it does sound low-paying - like working in bookstores or libraries, which is my first love. I finally left working in books for a better paying job, which does give me some satisfaction, but I miss being with books all day.

    I think things do turn out for the best, and i hope you feel the caring of the universe as you go through your days.

  13. Wow ... I've never heard of such a thing. I imagine it must be tough to have your income vary so much like that. And to have to do the same amount of work for potentially less money. I think you are worth so much more.

    Here's hoping for increased enrollment for your wonderful classes.

  14. Molly, I hope everything works out for you. I'll be praying that more students enroll into your class.

    How great you must feel not to have anything scheduled until mid-August?!! Thanks for reminding us about the August challenge. I think I'll buy a disposable camera and start taking pictures in advance.

    Have a great week!

  15. Fascinating school. It must have an innovative staff to have such an innovative schedule. I will be praying that things work out for you as you hope.

  16. Molly! I can't imagine being paid in direct correlation to the number of students. Although, at my school, where they've started loading 35-40 students in a class, it might not be quite the issue. Your situation, and for the amount of work that I KNOW you put in, it's got to be so disheartening. I will say though that I do understand. They have frozen our salaries again for the second year. Now, after just buying a new home this last year (I HAD to have write offs as a single woman), I'm a bit strapped for cash. Thankfully, I had frequent flyer miles to come visit my mom this summer, and her boss it giving me some more of his miles to come for Christmas, or I absolutely wouldn't be able to either. I wish teachers were seen for the valuable commodity that we really are, and I know how great you are. You've been so dedicated! Good luck, and I'll be praying you get more enrollments!

  17. I'm sorry for your job stress. :( I hope more students sign up for you; it seems like a crazy system that you get paid for student enrollment regardless of how many classes you're teaching! I mean, you have to prepare for 1 or 20, eh?

    Have fun living up the last of your summer vacation though!


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