Thursday, October 27, 2016

Your community needs an art teacher. Part III: The Pay Off

This is part three of a three part story.  Revisit Part I or Part II .

When my daughter started junior high she had to decide whether to take band or art as an elective.  I'm an art teacher, my husband's a professional musician.  Decide child!  Which parent do you love more!!?!

It wasn't really like that.  She is already very musical, and band seemed the way for her to go.  Since I was opening an art studio with after school art enrichment classes anyway, she'd hopefully get her art education gaps filled in.

The opening of No Corner Suns Art Studio coincided with this new policy in our school district.  I found the scheduling system completely unreasonable.  But, it did help convince me that our community needed quality arts education.

I took the plunge, and devoted myself to the art studio in the summer of 2015.  I maintained my philosophy that arts education is for everybody.  I developed classes for all ages and abilities and kept advertising and advocating.  I couldn't quite keep my eye off of the public school job postings though...

It's scary okay!  I just quit a job I had for nine years.  I'm making no money. We're paying for health insurance out of pocket. Paying rent for two small businesses!  Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that?  My husband is self-employed too? We have a mortgage. Three kids!  Two of them have braces! What was I thinking!?

At one point I noticed a .2 job posting for a neighboring school district.  Between running the business and my sporadic teaching schedule, it took me awhile before I actually applied - and for some reason I emailed the principal expressing my interest in the position (which - you know- I don't really want to have to talk to people...) She emailed me back almost immediately saying they were having interviews the next day! Aaahhh!  I'm not ready!  But, I pulled it together.  I was offered the job the same day my dog died.  It was such a relief.  Not the dog dying.  That was the worst.  Having that part-time job to return to in the fall in a respected school district. It eased a little of the pressure of my new life endeavor.

Over the past year and half I have maintained working super-part-time (as I like to call it) in the public school.  I haven't had one day of standing like a deranged Mona Lisa in the front of the room either.  I have also kept the art studio and maintain a pretty steady weekly schedule.  Classes and students have evolved and I have started teaching more adult enrichment, and less wine + paint.

I've also become that art teacher.  My community did need an art teacher.  When I started blasting ART CLASSES! ART CLASSES! ART CLASSES! All over town, I should've realized that even two years later, people remember.

I've become this GO-TO person for after school enrichment, mural painting, sign making, Brownie painting & pottery badges, libraries looking for unique programs, park district classes and children's events, school programs, museum functions... and more.  Most recently I was asked to teach classes at a small private school twice a week.  It was the easiest job I ever got. I'm known as this art teacher and I was asked to do a job that I actually love doing.

When I say "Your community needs an art teacher" it's because I started to think - who was doing all this stuff before I came along?  Nobody.  Honestly, until my junior high kid had to make that decision between music and art, I didn't even realize how little art my community had.  We didn't have quality after school arts classes, or wine + paint parties, or after school art club, teen nights, make-n-take art projects at our street fair, or paint parties at the park district, or real art teachers teaching library programs.  How were those Brownies earning those badges?

The pay off.  Yes, so now I am the richest and most famous and most powerfulest art teacher in all the land. Ahhh haaa haaaa haa.  Not quite. The business pays for itself; and fancy dance lessons, camps, and all those little extra things for my daughters.  Real school goes towards family expenses, but we are living off my husband's earnings. I can't recommend just quitting your job willy nilly.  The real pay off is the actual work.  I still come home physically and mentally exhausted, but it's different.  I have real pressure to advertise and sell my teaching as a business, but I also have the power to teach what I want when I want.  Sometimes I'm at the studio till 9:30pm, or on a Saturday afternoon, but there are only six kids in a class, and they are hilarious and we are learning some awesome stuff.  Sometimes there's a kid who's not hilarious, but I only have to see them an hour a week for five weeks!  Instead of a whole year, or six years!  Sometimes I have to talk on the phone *eeeewwww* or respond to email, or talk in person to other people.  Amazingly, this has been easier over the past two years.  It's almost as if repeatedly doing something over and over again makes something easier to do.  Oh yeah, and there is paperwork, insurance, taxes and bills, but there are also classes where we drink wine, and that's been a pretty good pay off too.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I recently (2 years ago) quit my full-time teaching gig to be "that language teacher" and teach French and Spanish enrichment classes. It's totally encouraging to see someone else as crazy - um, I mean- courageous as me. I totally love what you are doing and with you the best of luck ever!