We lived in Astoria, and by the time my children were two and four, I was a single mom.
I taught pre-school for a few years and then decided to renew my teaching certificate, which I did at OSU, in 1982.
During that summer I learned new and exciting ways to engage children in math and and science and reading. I was thrilled to learn how to lead children through the discovery of learning.
We moved to Corvallis in 1983, and I spent the next four years doing one-year gigs. I made home visits to families in need, I spent a year in a local preschool, and then a year in a classroom from which I was not rehired because the principal didn’t think I did enough with workbooks and worksheets. He was not amused that I had a guitar and we spent time singing. He was fired the following year.
Another principal advised me to keep a smile on my face and stick with my goals. That was the hardest advice I ever had to follow.
The next year I worked as an aide in two fourth-grade classrooms. I loved the kids they gave me to work with. They were the lowest kids in class and working with them to pass their math tests was a delight. We played with math and I challenged them to learn, and they did! But, I wanted to be the teacher.
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At the end of that year I was invited to present at a summer math class for elementary teachers at Western Oregon State College in Monmouth. I gave them a problem they confessed they did not know how to solve. They were astounded at what they learned working together and I sobbed all the way back home.
I got on my bicycle, thinking it would help me get over my despair. I was pulled to OSU and ended up weeping in front of Education Hall, now called Furman Hall. I had been fired for using strategies I learned in that building. I doubted there were any answers for me there...
Nevertheless, I went home and called every office in the building asking if there were any grants or scholarships for me to get my master's degree. The head of the Reading Department invited me to meet with her the next day.
After we talked for a while she told me they had six grants but, unfortunately they had all been given away in the Spring. She paused, dramatically, and added... one recipient had called the day before to say she would not be able to take advantage of her grant.
It was mine!
My path has not always been an easy one, but I do know how lucky I have been!
With deep gratitude and thanksgiving!
Dianne Roth is a mother, grandmother, teacher, and freelance writer. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org