Saturday, April 19, 2014

Years 35 to 37: Elementary Learning Specialist for Central Valley Schools: "You'll feel like you've come home."

After the 2010-2011 school year in Spokane, I was emotionally exhausted and wasn't sure I could return in the fall. But at this time, my husband and I had not yet consulted with a financial planner or attended any retirement seminars, so even though I was on the Plan 1 retirement system, we weren't sure I could retire.

Not long after the year ended, I got a call from Lyn, a woman I worked with in Spokane. She told me that there was an elementary learning specialist opening in Central Valley. She had looked at the position and she said it was essentially the same job I'd been doing for the past 12 years. I was excited and thanked Lyn for letting me know. And because the Spokane area is not really all that big, it turned out that a few people I'd worked with before, in both Cheney and Spokane, were now working in Central Valley as well.

One of those people was Geri Hammond. Geri and I had both been education specialists in Spokane before she became a coordinator for elementary special education programs. She was now the elementary coordinator in Central Valley. I decided to get in touch with her and see if she thought this would be a good job for me to apply for.

Geri was very encouraging. She said, "Kathy, you really should apply. This is a wonderful district to work for. You will feel like you've come home." Well that sounded good to me! So I applied.

Now what have I learned after all of these years about interviewing? I've learned to bring stuff and talk a lot! So when I got an interview, I brought my rolling cart full of binders with examples of professional development trainings, preschool curriculum, Social Stories, and the FBA/BIP I'd worked on with Michelle and Bonnie. When I came into the district office, Geri met me at the door. She said, "What is all that?" I said, "I just thought I would bring a few examples of things I've done over the years." She laughed and said, "Okay, but we've only got 45 minutes! Take your cart to the elevator, but don't you get in. Nobody rides the elevator. Just send it to the second floor and you take the stairs."

I did just that. Upstairs the special services area was large and light. People were friendly and open. The interview went well and in a couple of days I found out I had the job. I was delighted! My office area had a window and amazing amounts of storage! In all of my years as a specialist, I never once had a window!

Over the next several weeks I moved in and started to learn about the people and the job. I would have seven elementary schools and the special education programs and teachers attached to them. The job would be very much like what I did for Spokane, but more "hands-on". I could spend more time problem solving and working with others; something that slowly went away in Spokane as the specialists retired and were not replaced. This sounded great!

I really did feel like I had "come home"!