Friday, February 26, 2010

A little news

To make a looong story short, I contacted one of my old teaching friends from my Lord Beaverbrook High School days because he is one of my references and I was using him as a character reference for my volunteering at CIWA. Well it turns out he is now the principal of the high school in Lake Sundance, a nearby community, coincidentally down the road from our kids' school. Ellie and Brad don't go to school here in Lake Chaparral because they are in French Immersion. Anyway, my reference encouraged me to contact the CBE (Calgary Board of Education) if I was interested in returning to work. Talking to him convinced me that going back to teaching part time is just what I need to do. I'd like some part time work to offset our recent childcare expenses and I always liked teaching. But, the CBE has a surplus of teachers and is not hiring anyone. Not even substitutes. They have too many employees, so I have low expectations. My ultimate goal is to work in ESL at the Jr -Sr high school level. This is a long term goal.

The one area the board has a need is in foreign languages(including ESL). This is where my checkered past comes in handy. I was fluent in Spanish and used to teach high school Spanish. I am also qualified, ON PAPER ONLY, to teach French. I would not teach french; I am not good enough. But, I can read it and am qualified to work as a French Interpreter for the ladies I've met through my volunteer work with the CIWA.

Anyway, I applied via email to the board, stating my background and my current volunteer work at the CIWA in ESL, and my desire to teach ESL part time. So, I got called for an interview last Wednesday and was downtown 15 hours later being interviewed. Because of my cover letter, I'd assumed it was for ESL work. I researched ESL the night before. Crammed ESL, really.

Arrive to the interview surrounded by trilingual 22 yr old teachers fresh out of school. "Where's your portfolio?" one of them asked me. I don't have one, I replied. "Well, you seem very relaxed..." she said. I'm old now and have nothing to lose, I told her. I was very nervous 12 years ago when I came here for my first interview - you'll do great, I told her.

Still thinking I was there to interview for ESL jobs, I coolly followed the lady who came to get me from the waiting area into the interview. We sat at a small cafe sized roundtable with a computer in the middle. We sat down, and the lady asked me, "Why don't you tell me why you want to return to working for the CBE?" Well, I said, I last taught high school almost 6 years ago when I was pregnant with our second child. My husband was transferred to Trois Rivieres, PQ in May of... The lady interjected, "Why don't you tell me all of this in Spanish". It was not a question; it was a suggestion. So, I started all over again in Spanish. In my mind I was thinking... CRIPES - I guess I should have been reviewing Spanish instead of ESL last night. The interviewer was typing every word I said. I rambled on in Spanish, until I got stuck on a word I couldn't remember. The word was 2004 and I kept thinking Deux Mil... FRENCH! I couldn't think of how to say it in Spanish to save my life. This horror went on for a bit, then she asked me to talk to her in French. I said, why don't you ask me something, and I'll answer you in French... No, she said, just talk to me in French.

Okay, that's like someone saying to you, "Say something interesting to me, right now". Pressure.

It is then that I realize this is not going well. It's actually going badly. Very badly. She is not one bit interested in me for ESL work - they must need Spanish and French subs and teachers. That's the only reason I'm here. I'm screwed.

I was then asked if I might be interested in teaching Elementary French Immersion.


Um, no, not really. My French is not good enough. It never was. Spanish perhaps, but I need to work on that, too. In fairness to the lady, she was just doing her job - interviewing possible language teachers. Unfortunately for me, I thought I was there to interview for ESL qualifications... No one could ever accuse me of overselling myself. I like to put myself down, lower the bar, then surprise people when they find out I'm not an idiot. It's worked well for me for 36 yrs.

It got even worse, but I'll spare you the extra details. Take my word for it, questions like, "How do you assess students, and how do you respond to those assessments?" were not answered well by me. She did compliment my Spanish, and that was the highlight. The interview ended with her telling me that if I was successful, I would be put on the Sub list. If not successful, I would be able to reapply in two years. If that happens, she suggested I take some courses through Alberta Ed. So clearly, I'm not getting it. No sub list for me.

I thanked her for her time, all the while thinking, I just bombed that interview. I came across as such a fool, I am not considered decent enough to sub. And, I don't even want to sub! Feeling dejected, I met Gary for a coffee in his building. I mean, it's shame to waste a trek into the downtown core and not do something cool, like having a SB coffee with my handsome husband in his suit. I don't even like Starbucks coffee, but I like to go there. I told him I bombed. I really bombed. I am not even going to get on the sub list. A week ago I didn't want to sub. Now that I screwed up, I really want to sub. Rejection, or the smell of it, is a great motivator. I started to see all the pros of subbing - no real responsibility longterm to students, I can choose at which schools I would work, when I would work, and that is a real plus with Ellie and Brad's medical issues.

I want on that sub list! And, being on the sub list at least allows me access to intra-board information and eligibility to apply for real jobs - like ESL or even back to teaching Spanish. And now I have to wait 3 weeks to find out for sure.

So, last night Gary went to check the mail and came back with a letter for me, very thin, one page, from the CBE. Clearly a PFO letter. I opened it, and it started with, "We are pleased to inform you that.... "

So, I'm on the sub list. I'm good enough to sub. Phew.

I really wanted to get on the freaking sub list!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

She might not be a b*tch, but she looks like one...

I shop at the Superstore. Loblaws for you people in Ontario. I've often swore, weekly at times, that I will never go back there. The lineups are ridiculously long (in Shawnessy especially - although the Mackenzie location is much better; for you south Calgarians...) and much of the clientele is rude. Ask anyone in Calgary - this is true. We eat a lot of ethnic food, organic food, supplements, and other things that can only be found at the Superstore. Plus, I can get my Oil of Olay body cream there. Bonus. (scent = heaven)

Anyway, it is an annoying place to shop. Carts must be rented, for free ultimately, for $1. I buy the $2 coins whose proceeds go to the Children's Hospital, but fit the carts, and I buy them about once every 2 weeks, because Gary always loses mine.

So, today I went to the store. The kids were all sick and I needed to get them lozenges, etc, so they stayed home with Liezel. I did my shopping and was out of there in 20 minutes. It was pretty pleasant. It is also usually pretty pleasant when I have the kids with me. They are seasoned shoppers. But, I was alone and efficient. And happy. Not to be alone. It was sunny; I was quick - it was good.

After I unloaded my groceries into the van, I walked away from the Honda to take the cart back and to retrieve my little $2 coin. A lady (who wreaked of smoke... not that there's anything wrong with that, but she did...) came up to me smiling and said, "I only have 65 cents. Would you take that for your loonie?" I didn't have a loonie, I had the charity coin, but I smiled and said "Sure."

"Thanks a lot", she said. "No problem. Have a great day," I replied.

As the lady walked away from me, I heard her say to her friend... "I'm surprised she gave me this token. She looks like a total bitch."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Meeting Ellie's hero...

After watching part of Bill O'Reilly's condescending interview with Jon Stewart earlier today, I had a feeling that I had a rant in me and that I'd blog on it... and I probably still will, but not tonight. Because something lovely happened for Ellie today.

She had her regular weekly appointment at the Children's Hospital this afternoon. We go there for many reasons, but lately Ellie's been going a lot because she is seeing a psychologist. No, nothing dramatic or wrong with her "in that regard"; it is pretty standard for children with chronic diseases to see psychologists, for a whole host of reasons. Ellie is going in order to deal with her crippling and terrible fear of her regular blood screenings at the lab. It is awful. I mean awful.

Anyway, a brief background. Ellie is a newshound. Not sure where she gets it. Every single night at 5pm, without fail, we watch our local Global Calgary News. If I happen to forget, she reminds me. This is to the annoyance of her younger siblings, who are less interested in watching the news and would much prefer for Ellie to play with them while I am getting the grilled cheese-es ready. I MEAN, getting dinner ready. Ever since I told Ellie that I met one of the anchors, Gord Gillies, at a charity event in 2007, she has a strong fondness for him. Not a crush, but not totally unlike a crush. She always says, "Hey Mom, there's Gord...!" If Ellie is not in the room, Bradley will yell, "Hey Ellie, Gord's on!"

Sidenote: When Santa made an early stop at our house back in late November, Ellie was so excited and thrilled that she insisted we call Global News. Which we did, of course (thanks to our friend Rob, btw... he does a great Gord Gillies).

So, there is a Radiothon going on at the ACH (Alberta Children's Hospital) all week. Country 105FM is broadcasting live there all week, Global News has their on air personalities answering phones all week, and there are loads of other local celebs and families of patients participating by sharing their stories.

You can probably guess where this is going. While Ellie was alone with Dr. K, I was sent away for 15 mins, so I went downstairs, went to the pharmacy and shop and then observed a familiar face. Linda Olson. She is the female news anchor who works alongside Gord. She is pretty on tv, but absolutely stunning in real life. Then I saw him. Gord Gillies. Answering the phone. I thought, I can't wait to take Ellie down and point him out. I noticed the time and ran back up to the 3rd floor. Once there, I thought, "Hey... these guys are donating their time for sick kids. That is good of them. I had met Mr. Gillies before, and found him a delight. I have a sick kid who loves him. What are the chances, if I asked nicely, that Gord Gillies would actually come over and say hello to Ellie?"

I flew downstairs and mentioned all of the above to one of the organizers, then ran back upstairs to Dr K's waiting area.

When we finished our appt, we went downstairs and the organizer I spoke with gave me the thumb's up. She said, "Gord finished his shift at 2pm, and just went up to the Diabetes Clinic to find Ellie. (How nice??) Wait here, he'll be back.

Well, he could not have been kinder or friendlier. Ellie was awestruck and quite shy and nervous. But thrilled. Gord talked to Ellie for quite awhile, and even gave her his card, and wrote his personal number on it, so that she could call him anytime she wanted. He wrote on a pair of furry ears that he gifted her, and then chatted with me. I am guessing he does a lot of charity work. He asked a lot of pertinent questions about living with chronic illnesses. It has been my experience that parents of special needs children open up quicker and easier with strangers in talking about the realities and issues (and problems... ) related to their kids' illnesses than they do with people they have regular contact with. I know I often try to downplay how diabetes has affected our lives, because we are so, so very lucky in every other aspect of our lives.

Anyway, many of the staff of the radiothon started to mill around, watching Ellie and Gord with smiles on their faces. One lady left and came back with a photographer. They took a few pics and will be sending some my way. Hopefully I will have learned how to upload pics to this blog by then. I don't have high hopes, though. I set the bar pretty low for myself, especially in all areas computer related.

Ellie was just so excited and happy. It was a really nice moment for her and one that she'll remember for her whole life. Meeting Tommy Hunter in the Sydney KMart when I was 11 was a highlight of my childhood. (... well, he WAS really nice to me...) Everyone likes to feel special every now and then.

Anyway, the clip of Jon Stewart on Bill O's show was just on TV again. I don't have another post in me tonight, but I do feel a rant coming on soon. Maybe I'll call Gord Gillies and see what he thinks about this interview. I do have his number and he did say call anytime...