By the Skin of my Teeth
I apologize for my post, “I am Trying.” I realize that it was not fair of me to post such a vague entry, knowing full well that so many of my family and friends read. I was so upset the other night, and I was not thinking clearly. I had let my emotional brain overtake my rational brain.
Anyways, here’s the scoop, that sent me into a 2 day frenzy.
When I returned from Georgia, my Mom dropped off our mail. Waiting for me was a notification from the Post Office saying that I needed to pick up a certified letter from my school district. I did not think much of it since so much has happened this year with my medical leave, and I figured it had something to do with my leave.
Anyways, on Monday morning, I drove to the Dewitt Post Office and picked up the letter. I opened it immediately when I got into the car. As I started to read, I felt sick. Basically the letter said that my teacher certification had expired June 30th, 2011, and if I didn’t provide a current certificate by Thursday, August 25th (today), then I would be terminated.
I was sick with anger at myself. I could not believe I had let such an important deadline slip past me. I am usually so on top of these things. I know it is not an excuse, but with everything that went on last year, school was not as big of a priority and I think that is why I dropped the ball on renewing my teaching certificate.
Reading the letter sent me into my bulldog, “if it is to be, it is up to me,” obsessive, type A mode. I started to call anyone and everyone I could think of who would possibly listen to my situation, and be able to help me. I told myself I’ll be darned that after all my rehab and work this past year, that this will be what will keep me from returning to the classroom. I called the principal at the school where I have taught for 5 years. Human resources. The University of St. Catherine where I received my Master’s degree. Michigan State where I received my Bachelor’s. The Ingham ISD. The MI Department of Education multiple times. Friends who had renewed it before. The Union.
Basically, the information that I was able to gather from these phone calls was that it would take 8 weeks to receive a current certificate because I received my Master’s Degree from an out-of-state University.
I was desperate. The word “terminated” kept replaying over and over again in my mind.
I called the principal at the school where I had taught at again, and she advised me to go to HR and to the MI Department of Ed and see if I could talk to people face to face. After my trip to HR, I realized they were not going to budge. HR still made it clear: that I present an actual, current teaching certificate, or I would not be allowed to work in a classroom teaching children.
By Monday night, my situation was this…A VERY kind woman who I spoke with face to face at the MI Department of Ed (after my trip to Human Resources) said she would do what she could to help me. She said if I came in the next day with all my documents, then she would try and have one of the examiners print me my certificate then and there. I had a glimmer of hope, but I also feared that all of my documents that still had to come from the district and from St. Kate’s University would not arrive in time. I called everyone who had the documents and pleaded that they could put a rush on them.
By Tuesday morning, I was still missing one document: Proof that I took a required, 3 credit, Diagnostic Reading Course. I was waiting on St. Kate’s to fax me the form. At about 10 am they called me and said, “Kathryn, we have a problem. The reading course you took was 2 credits, not 3. We will not be able to fill out the document.”
I was beyond upset. All the hope I had went out the window. I just kept thinking , terminated, one credit short, terminated, one credit short, terminated.
I tried to gather myself together so I could call the woman who had offered to help me at the MI Department of Ed and tell her that it would have to be a no-go, since I was missing one credit. When I thought I could speak without losing it, I dialed her number. She answered and I think I got the word “Hi,” out before I started bawling. She kept saying, “Kathryn, Kathryn, KATHRYN, calm down. We will figure this out.”
I told her in between sobs that I was one credit short of being able to get the updated certificate, and I was going to be fired. She said, “No, no, no. This is what we are going to do. Instead of getting your Professional certificate, we will then just extend your provisional certificate. That way you will still have a current teaching certificate, and you will have 3 years to take the reading course to be able to obtain your professional teaching certificate.”
All I could do was squeak out a “Really?” and a “Thank you so much.” My hopeless sobs turned into tears of joy.
She went on, “I want you here today with your transcripts in hand at 1:00. I will have to pull a lot of strings and probably give away my first-born child, but if all goes well, you will have your certificate today.”
I told her I would be there at 1:00 sharp, and that I could not thank her enough. I ended up leaving my house, going to buy her flowers and a gift card, and then driving to my friend, Theresa’s house. Theresa had said she would go with me for moral support. Thank God for that girl.
When we arrived at the Michigan Department of Ed, we had to wait for
my angel the very nice woman to come down and escort us to the office. She kept saying, “You have your transcripts, right?!” I showed them to her, and when we got to the office she introduced me to the man who would be reviewing them, and determining if my provisional cert could actually be extended. After what seemed like an eternity, (which was probably only 15 minutes) he came out and simply said, “Your certificate is being printed now.”
I wanted to kiss him, but I restrained myself.
About a minute later, he brought me my new MI teaching certificate. It looked like gold to me. I told him I had never been so happy to see a piece of paper in my life. I could not stop saying thank you.
I asked if the woman who had helped me was still around. He went and got her and she escorted us down to the lobby. I gave her a big hug and my gift. She probably will never, ever know how much her act of kindness meant to me. I will never forget it.
After Theresa and I left the Department of Ed, we immediately drove over to my district’s HR department. I walked in and said, “I’m backkkk.” I showed the woman at the desk my certificate and the whole office started cheering. Theresa looked at me like, “Ummm, how do these people know you so well.” Then, one of the woman asked, “How in the world did you do that in 24 hours?! We have never seen that been done before!”
I told her it was because of kind and compassionate people in this world.
She said, “No, I bet it is because of your kindness. People want to help when someone is respectful and not rude.”
Whatever it may be, I have so much appreciation and gratitude for that woman at the MI Department of Ed. She did not have to help me. Especially since it was my fault. But she did anyways, out of the goodness of her heart.
With all the craziness in this world, things like this help remind me that life really is good, and to always count your blessings. I have so many.
P.S. Rest assured~I will NEVER, EVER forget a deadline like that again.