My life has changed drastically in the past week and a half! I am now living in an adorable New England town, about to start teaching music in two elementary schools! Honestly, I was planning on explaining how this entire thing came about, but I am totally worn out with sharing how I got hired, found a place to live, etc. So you’ll just get to read about my adventure now that I’m here! Which, in my opinion, is much more exciting anyways. I know that in my last post I was all okay with subbing and was making the most of it, but I am so glad everything worked out the way it did! This is way better than subbing.
First of all, my new home! I am living in southern Vermont, smack dab in between the two schools I will be teaching at. It’s almost exactly fifteen minutes north to one school, and another fifteen minutes south to the other. It’s a beautiful, beautiful place to live. I thought Pennsylvania has gorgeous, lush mountains, but the ones here are even better. A picture can’t even do them justice so I’m not going to bother at the moment. You have to be here to truly appreciate them. (So come visit me!) Frankly, I get quite distracted when I’m driving places because I’m too busy looking at the mountains that make me feel like an absolute dwarf. Oops. It’s a good thing there’s not too much traffic here!
I am renting part of a lovely little house, and it’s very close to the center of town. There’s plenty of places to walk, run, and bike – my kind of place! It’s actually quite a touristy area, with lots of people coming to shop and stay at the many bed and breakfasts that populate the area. I can already tell I’m going to love it here. I never thought that I’d want to live in Vermont, but now that I’m here I never want to leave! This is a picture of my street with a beautiful sunset. The mountains look small, but not when you’re standing in front of them!
Speaking of leaving, I will have to once a month for National Guard stuff, but it’s only a little over 5 hours to the base. When people find out I’ve moved here, they’re all saying, “Vermont?! It’s so far away!” But really it’s not. It’s not any farther than going to the coast for vacation, or moving to Virginia to Pennsylvania. But because not many people I know have been up this way, so it’s this strange, unknown, and frigid place. Well, hopefully by my living here, my friends and family will learn a thing or two about Vermont! I’m certainly learning a ton, and now I want everyone I know to have a vacation here. And no, it’s not cold here…not yet at least! I’m sure it will be, but from what I’ve heard from people, it isn’t that bad. My principals told me the kids go outside every day for recess, almost every day of the year unless it’s absolutely far below freezing.
I think it just stays cold here longer than in PA, that’s all. Definitely manageable. Another note about the upcoming cold weather: Every Wednesday during the winter months in VT public schools (and maybe private too), the schools shut down after lunch and the kids go skiing! How awesome is that?? Guess that means I’ll be learning how! I’ve gone snowboarding a few times, but never skiing. I can’t wait to learn!
The two schools I’m working at are quite small. And by that I mean very, very small. There’s less than 100 students at each elementary school – only one class and teacher for each grade, and fifth/sixth grade are actually combined into one class. I’m very excited to be working at small schools. They are both very self-sufficient and the small numbers allow for more flexibility with scheduling and activities. Here’s a picture of one of the schools. When I asked about safety in the area, the principal told me seeing bears on the property was the biggest issue! Bears!
It’s adorable and I can’t wait to start! My first day is this Wednesday.
It’s been such an adventure moving here. I came up less than a week ago, not knowing a single soul besides the two principals who interviewed me. My closest acquaintances are almost 3 hours away. There’s been some frustrating parts to it, of course, like paperwork. Dreaded paperwork! Insurance, finding the grocery store, getting a new bank account, lesson planning with very limited resources, and having to do all of this on my own is pretty exhausting. But my parents have been helping me work my way through the paperwork and any other questions I have about anything. By the way, they are now empty-nesters as my younger brother just left for college! I don’t know how they’ll deal with not having any kids at home!
It’s a good thing I’m rather independent and like doing things on my own, because moving to a new place is kind of lonely at first. I’m sure I’ll make good friends, but it might take some time. It’s not like college where there’s an organic place to meet other people with the same interests and age as me. Instead, I’m going to have to join local groups and volunteer and just involved with the community. I’m fine with going places on my own, but it will be nice to do things with friends. For example, church. I went to a church this past week by myself, and it was very nice, but it will be great to establish myself with a group of like-minded people once I decide on a church. I’m going to try out a few before I make my decision. After the church service, I went to an outdoor garlic and herb festival that happens annually this time of year! Here’s a snapshot of some of the vendors:
It would have been another place I’d loved to go with some friends, but again, I was okay with going by myself. I talked to a lot of interesting people as I sampled local cheeses, garlic, fudge, pesto, and other delicious Vermont and New York products. There was a live band playing and tons of people, so I was able to do one of my favorite things: people watch. It’s fun just observing others and watching the world happen sometimes. There were stalls selling alpaca products, fresh honey, woodworking, jewelry, and much more. It was a great way to spend my Sunday afternoon, but next time I’m bringing a friend!
One of the first things I did here was locate the library and get a card, so the rest of my weekend has been spent reading and relaxing. There are still things I need to do before Wednesday, but nothing is open today so I can’t go to the bank, print my lesson plans, etc. It’ll all get done eventually. I know it might be tough at first, because I’m jumping into the school year a little late with very limited knowledge about the students and what their level of musical knowledge is. But I think after a week or two I’ll have a lot more figured out!
I have a little secret to share. It’s something I wasn’t really proud of and didn’t like to tell people, but it’s turning out to be the biggest blessing of this whole experience. And if you’ve made it this far in my post, you probably care about me and won’t think any less of me.
Here it is: I’m only working part-time. I will be teaching music three days a week, and that’s it. At first, I was sad it wasn’t a full-time position, but then I read some articles and did some thinking, and I realized I don’t need or want full-time! I am completely happy with the amount of work I have. First of all, it’ll allow me ample time to lesson plan and get all the things I need to do as a first-year teacher, without feeling completely and totally overwhelmed. Second of all, I can still do those things I wanted to do when I thought I was going to substitute teach! I will still have time to run, to cook, to play music, to sew, to keep in touch with friends, everything. Yes, I won’t make much money, but honestly, it’s not like I decided to be a music teacher for the paycheck. I’m doing this because I love teaching and I love music. With careful planning, the numbers will work out fine. And, I do have a supplemental job helping with the after-school program every afternoon, which will give me more experience working with kids and teaching (and more money).
So it’s really a complete win-win situation. I have plenty of time in my life to be full-time and I’m sure I will want to be at some point. But for the next year (or however long I decide to stay) I’m loving the idea of part-time work. I know it’s not as noble or as wonderful-sounding as full-time teaching, and I’m sure there are some people who think I shouldn’t have accepted the position, but I know in my heart it was the right thing to do. It hasn’t been smooth-sailing the entire way, but not once have I regretted my decision to do this.
I am capable of supporting myself, serving God, and getting to do what I love most in one wonderful package, all the while having a hugely grand adventure in a place I’ve never been before. It takes a lot of guts and bravery to do what I did, and I’m really proud of myself.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my new life! I’ll leave you with a pretty picture of the clouds from a few days ago. They’re stunning. Stay tuned for more Vermont adventures. 🙂