Saturday, October 20, 2012

New Job, New Hometown = A New Start

In May of 2012, I was finishing up my third year of teaching, my first year at a new school, and starting, what I hoped, would be my final stop for my teaching career. I had come to a pretty major conclusion for myself, deciding that where I was teaching was the "ideal fit" for me. 

As fate would have it, while attending our State FFA Convention, I became aware of a very unique opportunity in the agricultural education field. Our state agricultural education staff includes a project known as Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education-FCAE. There are 5 program advisors- individuals who work with agricultural education programs pre-k through adult- as our state is divided into 5 regional areas known as districts. There were two openings- a program advisor for the northwestern part of the state, and a program advisor for the west-central part of the state. At the time, I was teaching in the east-central district, and truly felt I had found my niche.

Flashback to a week prior, when I had a conversation with my longtime boyfriend, about our future, and specifically location. He was finishing his junior year of college. (Note: If you are doing the math, you are probably wondering how we met, as I am three years older than him. He deferred college one year to be a State FFA Officer right out of high school.) Being the planner I am, I asked him, point blank, if he knew what his plans were for the next year, and if he would be remaining in east-central Illinois. He told me he thought he had finally realized what he wanted to do-something he had always known he'd want to be apart of-- a family business, back home, in Northwestern Illinois. As confused as I was about my future in that location, I told him that I wouldn't move without a promise of a good job in that area, and he understood. Being as stubborn as I am, I thought I would never move. Fate had different plans.

Flash forward to two weeks later, when I was approached and asked, in point blank fashion by a current program advisor if I would be interested in being apart of FCAE. This had always been a goal of mine, and I often thought, it would never be possible. I applied, and again, as fate would have it, my future completely changed. For the better, I might add.

In the period of two weeks, I had a new job, found a dream of a rental house, and packed my bags. From the date of my interview in late June, I moved exactly one month later and started my new career. 

In a new hometown, without an agricultural education program (one of the tasks near the top of my to-do list ;) ), in a part of the state that I have always wanted to live, I am starting to make a home and a life. In a new career, still in agricultural education, I feel so incredibly blessed. I have learned so much from all the of the teachers I've worked with, and am inspired and motivated by them everyday.

From here on out, I will be blogging about the different agricultural education programs which I will visit, sharing some of the vary unique and amazing ways agricultural educators in the state of Illinois are making a difference. I hope you all will follow me on this journey!

"Faith is where you close your eyes, and open your heart, moving beyond the familiar and embracing the unknown..."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Learning From Death, to Live

The past few days I've sat in my classroom going through the motions, teaching, and putting on that "happy face of Miss Novotney" so that my students will hopefully leave my classroom refreshed. Internally, I've been in a terrible down and out mood. It wasn't until this morning that I think I really came to terms with what has been bothering me.

Flashback to Saturday afternoon when I received a phone call that a classmate and friend of mine had passed suddenly in a car accident, leaving behind a child. Catching up from the shock, grief and utter frustration that someone's time on earth was cut way too short, leaving behind a family. Someone who had given much of their life to our country by serving overseas. The pain was a little too much.

Sitting in my classroom this morning, I realized something. I can sit and reflect, and feel crappy internally for months about this issue, or I can live my life better than I have been, making sure to seize every moment and every opportunity that I'm given.

Daily we are given chances upon chances to make a difference. Jon made such a difference in the lives of everyone around him, through his sheer brilliant intelligence, to the fact that he had put his life on the line for millions of people he did not know. As I sit here and am saddened that he left this earth much to early, I  realize that my chances are not cut short, and I still have every opportunity to continue my effort to make a difference.

Two weeks ago I sat on a panel speaking to student teachers who are in the final stages of deciding if they will go in to teaching high school agriculture. I left the panel with a final phrase that read "You will not change the world, but you WILL change the way your students view it." I will never cease to forget that thought that was instilled in me by my supervising teachers when I student-taught.

When Jon returned from Afghanistan, he made the following statement to the local paper. "It didn't bother me at the time that we were at war," he said. "Maybe a little part of the reason I signed up was to help to fight the good fight."
In Memory: