I haven't had full-time work--with the exception of one semester in 2007--for six years. There were various reasons: a new location (Texas to North Carolina and back), graduate school, and a horrible job market. I was hired on as a full-time English professor at a huge community college in North Carolina, but as some of you may remember, I moved home to be nearer my family, and I've never regretted it in the least. However, the job hunt since I've been back has been brutal. The applicant pool for community college teaching positions in Dallas-Fort Worth is huge, and it makes it much tougher to get a foot in the door at any college.
As many of you know, I've been teaching twice what normal teachers teach for well over a year. That means that while most teachers handle 3-6 classes a semester, I teach somewhere in the neighborhood of 10. It's insane on my part, but money has to be made somehow. College loans have to be paid, debts whittled down, and feeding two almost-teen stepkiddos is no laughing matter. After Chuck lost his job seven months ago, had to start a home-based business, and the economy went "splat!" things got really difficult, and with fewer classes available, summer pay didn't go very far.
This week I've been presented with some unexpected good news that helps me see a light at the end of this very bleak tunnel. One of the colleges that's only employed me for about four months has now offered me a full-time teaching position. 24 hours in the classroom every week (6 courses), with an additional chunk of office hours/tutoring and committee work that equal forty hours a week. There are benefits--health insurance for the first time since 2007. There's a 401K, paid time off, and a set work space that's only mine. For the first time in years, I finally have a "real" job again with some stability, more money than I've ever made (woo!), and some peace of mind.
I just can't tell you what a blessing this is and how relieved I feel that after October 13th I won't have to run from one school to another anymore. I won't have to be away from my family at such wonky hours, and I actually get to slow down and de-stress a bit. Hell, I might even have time to read more!
Now, being the anal retentive worrier that I am, I expect I'll still hold onto some extra online teaching opportunities. I love teaching online, I love the people I work with, I love the students, and it's manageable. And if something happens--anything--it's extra income.
I just want to share this great moment and thank all you bloggers who have encouraged me through these rocky years. You all have always sent your words of caring, kindness, and wisdom, and you couldn't possibly know how comforting they've been. I've occasionally blogged about the precariousness of my situation when I was truly worried, and it feels great to know that I won't have to be so worried anymore. I'm sure it'll take some time to decompress and settle into this far more stress-free existence, but I'm looking forward to the process.