Today I resigned my position as a public information officer for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. My last day will be next Friday. It was a short, strange and disappointing run that is ending for a variety of reasons I’m not ready to post. Let’s just say I expect my supervisors to be honest and follow the same guidelines they establish for their employees. But, even more than that, I’ve decided it’s time to take the plunge and fully embark on my third major career change.
I spent 10 years after high school working as a machinist. That’s a career I didn’t choose; there simply wasn’t anything else available to a kid with just a high school diploma at that time and place. Then I went to college and have worked as a journalist/writer/public relations flak for the past 10 years. At one time, that was a career I’d have killed for, but so many of the jobs I’ve had in the field have ended up screwing me over.
On September 11 I’ll begin working as a public school teacher. I wasn’t able to land a regular job as a teacher this past summer, so I’m going to spend this school year doing substitute work, gaining classroom experience and making contacts so I’ll have a better chance of getting a full-time teaching job this coming summer. It’s risky. It’s less money. There could be days where I won’t get called … although at the moment that seems unlikely. I’m registered with two school districts and I’ve had around 100 calls this week.
Why teach? Well … I want to try to make a difference. Do something valuable that might just change a kid’s life. It was a high school teacher who made me want to be a writer. It was another high school teacher who read and critiqued my first horror story, and a third who introduced me to Poe and Hawthorne. They made a difference. Maybe I can, too.
I’ll also be picking up more freelance work. OKC Business has already agreed to throw assignments my way again. One thing about being a substitute teacher — I don’t have to bring papers home to grade, or prepare lesson plans.
This whole thing is a little scary. I spent 10 months after getting shafted at OCU trying to find a full-time job. Now here I am throwing away the job I finally got in hope I’ll still be able to support my family in the short term and land another full-time job in a new career in the long term. At least I have a wife who supports this insanity … and can get health insurance through her job.