Saturday, February 8, 2014

Years 23 to 34: Education Specialist for Spokane Public Schools: The Interview

In the summer of 1999, after ten years with the Cheney School District as a preschool teacher, I was told that there was an opening for an education specialist in Spokane. I looked at the posting for the position and decided I probably had the right credentials for the job, and so gathered all my transcripts, updated my resume, and applied for the job.

When I moved to eastern Washington in the summer of 1986, the first job I interviewed for was a resource room job at Salnave Elementary in Cheney. The interview lasted about 15 minutes. I knew that wasn't good, but every time I started to answer a question, the principal of the school would say, "Great, yes," and I would stop talking. Needless to say, I did not get that job. After that experience, I decided I always needed to have a lot to say. Those of you that know me well are thinking, really Kathy? When are you EVER at a loss for words!

So when I went to the interview in Spokane, I decided to take some things with me to share. During my masters program in early childhood, I worked on putting together a portfolio assessment for preschool. Over the years I had been exposed to several great curricula including the ERIN, High Scope, Creative Curriculum, and others. I took parts of each of these and then added information from my specialists and came up with a pretty complete assessment. In this assessment I included samples of children's work, photos of things they built, audio samples of things they said, etc. I had only just started to test this out with my students, but had high hopes for the information I could gather with it. This seemed like the perfect thing to bring with me.

Early in August, I got the call to come in for an interview. I was very nervous. This would be a very different job for me. No classroom. No attachment to one school. But I went in and thought, I just need to try my best. In the room were six women, these were the special education coordinators for the district. Each one represented a different part of the district and one of the women represented the middle and high school programs. They took turns asking me questions and I answered them all. At the end they asked me if I had anything I wanted to ask or share, and I brought out my portfolio assessment and talked to them about its' creation and how I used it. They asked if they could keep a copy and I said yes. The interview ended and I got up to leave. As I left the room and started down the hall, I could hear a lot of laughter coming from these ladies. All I could think of was I must have really bombed! Why else would they be laughing? My heart sunk.
My preschool portfolio assessment

But a day later, I got a call from the special education department offering me the job. I was surprised! (Years later I was relating my impressions of the interview and asked one of the coordinators why they had laughed when I left. She said, "We were so surprised by all of the things you shared, we couldn't believe it!")

A few days later I met the rest of the ed specialists at a luncheon at The Elk. These were (and still are) a great bunch of women, many of whom I would be spending the next twelve years with! I felt out of my depth, but knew I would be learning a lot from them, so I should pay attention!