More Jenny. It will get better I promise

To Jenny, any distraction was good. She had finished her teaching degree at the University of Georgia and was working on her Masters at Georgia State in Atlanta. But because she had two younger siblings who were twins and about to enter college and the bad economy, she moved back in with her parents for grad school. It wasn’t the original plan but school was expensive even with the Hope Scholarship she got from the lottery. The downside was that she had to work as a teacher in the state for five years but that was her plan to begin with. It was hard in the beginning but she adjusted and only her social life suffered. But she was finishing up at summer school and could join the workplace full time soon.

She had applied for jobs but the only schools that responded was inner city school known for its high crime rate and low test scores, and a tiny county in the mountains she had never heard off called Togalla County. A Cherokee word that she imagined meant hillbilly. So it came down to the projects or the sticks. Next weekend she planned to drive up to Walhalla and check out Togalla County.

She had been to the outskirts of the mountains but never in the middle of them. It felt like the first sixty miles went a lot faster than the last thirty. Roads that wound down for what seemed like forever down a mountain only to go back up another. And the few towns along the way could hardly be called towns at all. Villages were more like it.

Finally she got to Walhalla. It was a quaint town with an old courthouse taking up block in the town square so all the traffic seemed to flow around it in four directions. She was told to come up for an informal interview just to see the school and meet some of the faculty.

She was expecting to find a log cabin but the school looked modern and was only a few years old. The principal, Ms. Adams, was outside talking to one of the teachers when Jenny pulled up.

“You must be Jenny. I’m Principal Adams.”

“Yes, nice to meet you. How did you know?”

“Oh everyone here knows everyone. Small town you know. And you look a little more refined than the typical Walhalla young woman. Come, I’ll show you around.”

She got the tour. It was surprisingly modern with nice computer labs and friendly people. Though there weren’t many people there because school was still a ways off.

“Come into my office Jenny. So what did you think?”

“It’s a small school. But much nicer than I expected.”

“You know the budget has forced all schools to cut back on teachers. Have you had any other offers?”

“Southside wrote me a letter and wants me to visit.”

“In Atlanta? That’s one of the poorest performing schools in the state. If the scores don’t come up it may be closed after this year. Is that the kind of challenge you were looking for? It’s an awful area you know.”

“No, I was hoping to find something close to home near Dunwoody, or North of the city. Or Athens even. ”

“Well, I don’t mean to pressure you but we need an answer by Monday.”

“By this Monday? I thought this was an informal interview?”

“It was meant to be but the thing is one of the members of the school board has a daughter and he is pressuring us to hire her. You are much more qualified but in small towns it’s often who you know, not what you know. I had to say that you already accepted the job yesterday to get him out of my office. So I’ll need to know tomorrow. The job is yours if you want it. The salary might not be as nice as Southside, but you’ll find the cost of living here more than makes up for it. And you won’t have to worry about getting raped in the parking lot when you leave at night.”

Jenny’s heart sank. This was not what she had in mind when she majored in education. But she knew contracts for young teacher were only done for one year anyway. Maybe something would open up next year when things got better. Hopefully anyway.

“I’ll take the job, Ms. Adams. Teaching is teaching and I have bills to pay.”

“Good. I was hoping you’d say yes. You know, I came here myself as a young teacher and it was quite a culture shock at first. But now I’ll never leave. I hope to retire here in a couple of years. We’ll send you a contract in the mail. Be sure to get it back as soon as you can. Welcome aboard, Jenny. You have my number if you have any questions.”

“Yes, I do. I still have three of school to finish.”

“We expect you here in five weeks from Monday. See you then.”

Published in: on August 1, 2010 at 6:36 pm  Comments (1)  

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