In addition to the pregnancy, I have another change to announce: a new job! In between the two-hour commute (round-trip), the cost of gas, the insecurity of being an adjunct instructor (part-time temporary, never knowing from one semester to another if I'll have enough classes to have benefits, or even any classes to teach at all), and the fact that the salary is so low that it would barely cover day care costs, it made sense to resign from teaching at Colorado State. It was time to find something closer to home that I'd be able to keep doing even after Croissant arrives.
And amazingly, I did! You might recall that earlier this summer I did some contract work with the Lafayette Public Library helping out with the Reading Buddies, a reading enrichment program. They've now hired me to coordinate the year-round program! Here's how it works: a first, second, or third grader (the Little Buddy) is paired with a middle or high school student volunteer (the Big Buddy). The Buddies meet at the same time once a week to explore books together--reading, discussing, playing simple literacy games like Boggle Jr. At the beginning of each session, I'll meet with all the Big Buddies to present activities they can do with their Little Buddies and have them share issues that have arisen during their meetings. I'll observe and troubleshoot and be a resource person during the Buddy meetings. And then for the last 20 minutes of the session, all the Buddies will come together for a group activity--a library scavenger hunt, a presentation on a children's author, a creative writing activity, and so forth. By the end of the semester (or the summer), these group activities will turn into a project that the students can present for their parents, like a poetry reading or a readers' theatre presentation of a simple script.
Different groups of Buddies will meet four times a week, twice at the public library and twice at two elementary school libraries (as part of their after-school programs) in hopes of reaching not just the stellar readers who'd be coming to the public library regardless but also the kids reading below grade level who will really benefit from one-on-one attention from an older kid who is enthusiastic about books.
So I'll be in charge of recruiting the students, interviewing potential Big Buddies, training them, coordinating with the schools, and planning the sessions. And as the program is grant-funded (the library doesn't have the money to support it), I'll also be writing the grant applications that insure that Reading Buddies continues. (The grants will pay my salary, thus I'll be very motivated to make them as strong as possible!) In fact, we actually have to wait to hear if the most recent grant has been funded before the library can officially offer me the job. But the librarians assure me that we'll win the grant and that I'll be hired in September.
This is a part-time job that will require probably half the number of hours a week as my part-time university teaching did (when you factor in lesson planning, grading, meetings, and everything else that teachers end up doing) but still pay about the same. And hooray, the library is just three houses away! No more commute! No reason for me to be on the highway eight months pregnant in a snowstorm just to get to campus and have half the students email me to say that they don't feel like leaving their dorms to walk to the classroom!
Since it's part-time, I'll be able to keep up with all my other projects (like this blog, tutoring, volunteering at the library's Homework Center, my summer gardening misadventures, serving on the board of directors for CCFLT, and taking care of my nephew Carl once a week--and wait till you hear what he can say in French now!). I'll let the tutoring taper off as January approaches and then start it back up again if/when I'm ready. As for the Reading Buddies job, I may even bring Croissant with me--he/she can sleep in the office while I work (babies do sleep, right? Please tell me Croissant will nap!) and kids can read to him/her during Buddy sessions sometimes.
Most importantly, I love the idea that even though I'm no longer in the classroom, I'll still be involved with helping students learn!
PS: The worst part about taking the Reading Buddies job is it means that the creative and talented current coordinator, my good friend Estela, is leaving. Her husband is going to be a lawyer in the Air Force, so they have to move away. I'm really going to miss her and her family! She's raising her one-year-old, Dani, bilingually (English/Spanish), and Dani is just now starting to say more than "Mama," "Dada" (everybody other than mom, including me, is "Dada"), and "eee ya!" (like a little kung fu fighter). But Estela has promised to keep me updated on Dani's linguistic progress. Bonne chance et bon voyage!