Six years ago I approached my husband, Jerry, with a request. I asked him if he could and would support my dream of returning to graduate school for a new degree. I had finished my master’s degree in Elementary Education shortly after we were married and at the time I proclaimed, "I’ll never step foot in a classroom as a student again." In some ways I kept that promise. This time, I explained, I wanted to earn an online master’s degree in School Libraries and Information Technology from Mansfield University and the best part about it was that I could do it all from my own computer; no classrooms, no traveling and no nights away from the family. We have two children; Danny who is now 16 years old and Phillip who is now 12, but at the time my family was younger and the demands that would be placed on Jerry were big ones. Fortunately, Jerry agreed that he could and would support my future endeavor and the very next day I applied to Mansfield University.
My first class began in the spring and I was an eager student. I hadn’t realized how truly poor my computer skills were. I actually needed assistance to attach my first homework assignment and send it to my instructor. I’d never attached a document and sent it anywhere before! Assignment after assignment and week after week I learned the things that I didn’t even know I didn’t know. I had a lot of help in my school district from our LMS, MJ Barber, and from the computer instructor, Donna Newcomb. I was so lucky to have people in my corner who were willing to give of their time to enable me to succeed. I earned a 100% on my first class and I was hooked.
I took one class at a time to try to help ease the load at home and I completed my degree in the summer of 2007. I worked full time as a 6th grade teacher at Romulus Central School throughout my coursework with Mansfield University. I have been teaching at Romulus Central since 1987 and although it would have been the most comfortable thing for me to sit tight and wait out a retirement that would enable me to step into the LMS position, I wasn’t happy waiting so I started to apply to schools in the area with LMS positions available. I had a lot of great interviews but one common theme kept coming up. I had many years in as a teacher so my salary was considered too high for most schools to justify hiring me with literally no LMS experience. A former Superintendent told me that I had "the golden handcuffs" on.
I had a very close call in 2007. At the very end of the summer I was to be hired by a local school district where I was told that salary wouldn’t be a problem. Someone forgot to send that memo to their financial manager because the salary that they offered me was too low for me to be able to take the position without my family really suffering. I started to believe that with only 10 years before I would be eligible to retire I might only end up working the last few as a Library Media Specialist. It was hard to know that every day that went by without using my LMS skills I was losing ground. I had graduated two years before and hadn’t worked yet in a library.
In June of this year I became aware of an opening for a middle school position in my hometown where my own children go to school. Seneca Falls Middle School/ Mynderse Academy is 2.5 miles from my house. It seemed too good to be true but I sent my resume and letter of interest and was happy to get a call and an invitation for an interview. My interview went wonderfully! I felt like I was just talking education with two friends. (I was interviewed by the middle school principal and the high school LMS.) Two days later I received a very common phone call that stated that although they’d like me to continue in the interview process, the salary that they could offer me was much lower than my current salary. With great disappointment I had to withdraw my name from the list of candidates. I’ll admit it now…I cried when I hung the phone up. I felt those golden handcuffs tighten around my wrists.
The summer began and I put my heart and soul into preparing for the changes that Romulus Central was making. This coming year I’d be teaching 5th and 6th grade social studies. I had a lot to learn about the 5th grade social studies curriculum so in between teaching summer school, attending my sons’ soccer games and just being a wife and mother, I was studying the social studies materials that I’d be preparing lessons from in the fall.
On July 30th as I was in my summer school classroom I received a phone call from Mr. Kevin Rhinehart who is the middle school principal at Seneca Falls Central School District. He positively shocked me when he asked me if I was still interested in the position that I’d interviewed for back in June. Long story short, I hadn’t even been aware of the fact that he’d been working with the Superintendent and the Board of Education to make it possible to offer me a salary that would enable me to accept the position that I’d wanted so badly and had to turn down. What I thought was dead in the water was very much alive! I met that day with the Superintendent at Seneca Falls, Mr. Bob McKeveney, and we were able to agree to a very acceptable salary.
This fall instead of teaching 5th and 6th grade social studies my life is turning in a whole different direction as I’ll become the new Library Media Specialist for the Seneca Falls Middle School. I’ll actually have my son, Phillip, as a student for 10 weeks this year. Although there is so much to be done in such a short time, right now Phillip and I are trying to decide if he has to call me "Mrs.Galusha" or "Mom."
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