Thursday, January 22, 2009

Student Teacher, Part 13

As the term went on, I felt more comfortable with my slow class than with the bright one. And if I could offer more to kids who struggled with academics, maybe I should be teaching ones who had severe problems – those in special education classes. A master's degree in special education seemed like a reasonable goal. But there was a problem: What graduate school would accept me?

My grade-point average was miserable, and my scores on the Graduate Record Exam even worse. I wasn't quite myself the day of the exam. I had been partying Friday night and overslept, waking around 7:45 a.m. Saturday morning. The exam started at 9 a.m., more than 30 miles away at the University of Pittsburgh. I threw on some clothes and jumped in the car and made it to the examination room at 8:55, but I hadn't even brushed my teeth or combed my hair, and I had to stumble through the 4-hour test without so much as a cup of coffee.

Syracuse University was the first to reject me, quickly and tersely. In the end, only the University of Idaho was willing. Apparently so desperate for grad students, they never even asked for my GREs or my transcript. But Moscow, Idaho, seemed so far way, not just from Washington, Pa., but from all of civilization.

May had arrived, and I would soon leave my classes to Miss Tygart to finish out the year. Maybe she could coax some effort from these seniors sliding through spring. "Can you stay a little longer?" some of the kids asked. "Why?" I asked. "Just to watch you blow off your assignments and sleep through class? I'm graduating. I'm otta here."

But I still had no idea what to do. Inquiring about teaching positions at another local district, I was told not to bother to apply unless I could coach a sport. The only sports I had been any good at were hockey and lacrosse, and although they are popular now, no school in this area had one of those teams in 1971.

Some of my students did not deserve to pass, but I was pretty sure they would. A bunch of losers graduated that spring, and I was the first of them.

1 comment:

Mike Jones said...

Very introspective, Park. Seems like your students also were doing a little teaching during your time there.