Saturday, January 10, 2009


"Are you working?"

This tends to be one of the first questions I am asked.  

For those of you who know me only through my blog, let me fill in a few gaps for you.  While living in St. Louis, I taught 7th grade science for ten years.  I took a year-long leave of absence after Noah was born so that I could spend his first year at home.  Then life happened... Josh accepted the job at Alabama and Noah was diagnosed with leukodystrophy.  

I played around with the idea of getting a part-time job when we thought Noah would be going to school at Rise.  I pondered the possibility of substitute teaching and perused the job listings on the University of Alabama website, eventually interviewing for the position of "materials worker" with an university-affiliated program called AMSTI.  The job was offered to me while Noah was in the hospital... at which point I turned it down due to the uncertainty we were facing.  

It didn't take long for us to realize after Noah's funeral that I needed to do something during the day to help me remain emotionally stable.  Josh would usually find me curled up in a ball in bed when he would come home from work in those first few weeks.  So I called AMSTI back, expecting that they had already filled the position.  Instead, I discovered that the director and materials manager of the program had been following Noah's story and praying for us... and they had held the position open for me if I wanted it.  Amazing.

So, last September, I began working as a materials worker.  Not a glorious position by any standards, but exactly what I needed.  AMSTI provides curriculum and professional development for math and science teachers in participating K-12 public schools in Alabama... my role is to unpack, inventory, and repack the elementary science kits that are sent out and returned four times a year.  

The hours are incredibly flexible... this allowed me to travel with the Alabama volleyball team throughout the fall and to spend a little extra time with Josh as we both continue to grieve.  I usually work around 20 hours a week and try to take Fridays off for a little personal time.  

My brain has been mush since losing Noah, so it is good that this position does not require a huge amount of mental energy.  I spend a lot of time counting consumables like straws and pipettes as well as trying to creatively pack the plastic crates we use so that all the supplies fit for a given unit.  

For now, this is how I spend a sizable chunk of my days.  I enjoy the people I work with and am blessed by provision of the position.  There is still the lure of teaching... although the state of Alabama is not making it easy for me to transfer my certification from Missouri (don't get me started).  I may try to add a few days of substitute teaching each week to get a sense of the schools in Tuscaloosa ... that way, if I did decided to pursue a classroom position again, I would have a better idea of which schools are most desirable.  


Gina Dankel said...

So glad you are working. That repetitive quick gratification work (you can see progress)is probably best for now. I think about you every day and wish I could give you a hug or make you laugh.