It’s been a couple weeks now since I’ve been back from my first term of grad school at SCAD (If you didn’t know, read the post “The Tale of a Last Minute Graduate Student“). It was amazing to get to spend five weeks in Savannah, pouring all of my time into developing my craft, being in a constant community of artists and reading some amazing articles and books all pertaining to visual art.
And while I was there, God really came through BIG for me and my family. When the decision was made that I should go to grad school my wife and I were taking a huge risk. In June, we paid the enrollment fee with money we didn’t really have (money set aside for bills). And the biggest concern of ours was that August was looming over our heads and we had no income coming in to pay our bills. However risky it was, we strongly felt that I was supposed to start SCAD. In short, this is the most amazing part: by the end of my term in Savannah I sold three paintings and we were able to pay almost all of our bills for the month of August. In my experience, God totally provides. We went from having this black hole of “I don’t know how we’re going to pay rent and this and that” to a very manageable “Oh, that’s all we have to come up with?”
So, after things started settling down we decided that I would continue doing freelance work and keep painting, hopefully making some more sales and show in some galleries. We figured that we didn’t need to do daycare anymore (we actually had a pretty sweet one set up ten months in advance) and that I would just watch Blaise during the day and then I’d do work and school at night. Melissa and I made these decisions because there were no job prospects on the table; even Starbucks wasn’t hiring (and I have years of experience!). There were no teaching jobs, no design jobs, no printing jobs. Nothing. Two weekends ago, I felt like I was at the end of my rope. I was so frustrated.
On August 10, I received an email from someone who heard that there was an art teacher position opening up at a high school in St. Johns County. I mentioned it to my wife and she suggested that I take my resume to the school. I put together my resume, artist bio and statement and a digital version of my portfolio and drove to the school (in my Sunday best, I must add) and talked to the receptionist. She gave me the run-around that I should do this and then fill this out online. Then, politely, I just asked, “Is the principal in? I’d really like to speak to the principal.” She took my folder with all my credentials (or lack there of) and said, “He’s really busy, but I’ll see if he has time to meet with you.” Within teem minutes I was in the principal’s office hard selling him why I’m the perfect guy to fill the art teacher position. With every question I had a solid retort. I was excited. I was passionate. Then he said I was “definitely a candidate.” From there, the principal gave me instructions of what I needed to do so that the county could officially give me an interview.
I filled out the application, got my reference letters in (signed and on an official letterhead), got my transcripts in. It’s been nine days and I still haven’t had an interview.
And then there was a twist.
On August 16, I finally got some sort of correspondence from the principal. He let me know that they finally had a chance to look over all the applications and that an interview would soon be on it’s way. Around the same time my friend (the same one who let me know about this opportunity) told me that he sent my resume to a high school in Duval County; they too were looking for an art teacher. What? Two art teacher opening?! That’s inconceivable! That’s miraculous even! With all the budget cuts that Duval County has been having there seemed to be no hope in me getting an art position. At the end of last school year they laid of dozens of art teachers. And even if they could hire anyone, Duval County would have to first offer all their laid off employees their jobs back. It seemed impossible that there would be any opportunity for me to be able to teach. And here, before my eyes, was an email that there was a school needing to add another teaching position for art.
Wednesday, the 17th, around 7:30 pm I received a phone call. On the other end was the principal of the high school in Duval County. She asked if I was interested in talking about the position open at her school the next day. I did not hesitate with my reply, “Yes.” That night I could not sleep at all. My mind was muddy with all the possibilities that this job might bring. I was overwhelmed and excited. As I tried to dream, I was actually creating lesson plans and answering interview questions.
On Thursday the interview came and went. I thought I did well. I was just as excited as when I talked to the other principal. I first was introduced to one of the other art teachers at the school. We talked about art and and I showed her my portfolio website. We talked briefly about my time in Venice as well as some of the work that I had done while I was in Savannah. After ten minutes or so, the principal walked in and stayed as calm and collected as I had been with the art teacher. As she browsed my digital portfolio she asked me to continue talking about whatever it was I was talking about. it was a lot of fun talking about art and processes and how I did this project with this school and that project with that school. The principal asked some pointed questions and I felt I answered with strength and confidence. And then the interview was over. (in my mind I thought, “Nailed it!”)
The art teacher offered to show me the art facilities and I was nearly foaming at the mouth with excitement to see what they had to offer. To give you a bit of background on the school: It’s brand new and all the equipment is state-of-the-art. Classrooms are air conditioned to the number of students that are in the room. Automatically. In-flippin’-sane! We walk around a bit and then the teacher inserts the key to open the door to the the first of three art rooms (THREE) which are all connected. And it’s ginormous!In this room there are tables and chairs. There’s a kiln room with two fully digital kilns. Just saying. This is the 3D (ceramics and sculpture) classroom. The next room is just as big for 2D art (painting and drawing). And the last room is has plate glass walls and a sea of iMacs. Oh, that’s just the digital photography classroom. Oh my goodness. This place was ridiculous in how awesome it was. All that potential and room and technology to make beautiful and sophisticated works of art.
After my tour of the school I went home. I was excited. I was nervous. I kept asking if this would work out. The principal had mentioned that she was doing another interview the next morning. She also indicated that she would make a decision some time after the interview, letting my know wither way by mid morning. I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know how to feel. I just knew that I wanted that job.
Friday comes (which is yesterday) and I’m nervous and Melissa’s nervous; we’re nervous because it’s a pretty big deal. I’ve been looking for a job since I graduated UNF in December. That’s eight months, folks. (Again, if you want some back story visit the blog post “The Tale of a Last Minute Graduate Student“.) Several times throughout the morning the phone rang, but it was only Melissa checking in to see if I had heard anything. I hadn’t. Then, at 3 o’clock I got THE CALL. It was the art teacher. I was on edge until she spewed the word “Congratulations”. After that point I felt relief and peace and joy and calm. I couldn’t believe it. I got the job.
I got the job.
And I start on Monday.
God is so good. I am so excited that I have this opportunity.
Just as a little side note: next year, when I register for SCAD I will qualify for a $15,000 teacher scholarship, which in addition to my current scholarships and awards, will pay for my full tuition for the rest of my education.
Another side note: Melissa got ahold of a really awesome daycare for our son.