Help Me Teach What Really Matters

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UPDATED 8/10/18: I apologize for the long post everyone. As many of you know, I sought out to my friends and family to help relocate to San Diego to continue my passion…the arts and the advancement of arts education. This year, I’ve reached a point where I am again in need of help to relocate for an exciting new position.

As a teacher, one of the principles I try to instill in my students is that the noblest thing anyone can do is ask for help. As a person, I often find myself to seldom follow this advice. Well friends…I need your help. I am a public school music/theatre arts and dance teacher. Ever since graduating with my Master’s from USC I have been blessed with some amazing job opportunities. From online teaching to two years with one of Orange County’s foremost musical theatre programs, to this past year teaching in El Cajon (an outside city of San Diego County). You all have helped me get here and I could not be more grateful. I am thankful that I get to share my passion with my students everyday as part of their core curriculum, rather than something that is viewed as extra curricular.

HOWEVER I’ve encountered a new problem. My position in San Diego was a “one-year temporary contract” to fill in for a teacher on military leave at another school site. This was presented to me as, “Don’t worry. You’ll be fine. She won’t be coming back,” by the head of HR, something of which I feel I should report to the Union. I do not want to talk shade about my previous school. But to be honest, it was probably the most miserable year of teaching I’ve encountered. It was in a rough neighborhood, bullying beyond galore, drug dealing and fighting on campus, threats (especially homophobic threats against me) and other teachers, and a group of the most disrespectful students I have ever encountered. We teachers were not supported when it came to behavioral issues in the classroom. What’s even more sad is that coming from OC where I had contact with parents everyday, there was zero parent involvement at this school. Even when we would put on our amazing musicals, I believe I met two parents–TWO. Point is, it was a long year of dealing with anxiety, stress, and depression—something that sent me to the hospital on numerous occassions.

Two months ago, I was informed by our principal that we would become a “Dual Immersion Pathway” school, meaning they are looking to recruit more English Language Learners. At the time Spanish was not an elective at our school. Therefore, in lieu of having two English speaking music teachers, my position was “dissolved” in favor of hiring a bilingual Spanish Elective teacher. Though I was unhappy with the school, and I knew that this job had the potential to be only one year, I was confident in my strengths and abilities that I would be kept on. No one can do what I do in the classroom. So I was again blindsided and jobless. My only saving grace was the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, an organization I joined back in January which completely relieved all of my stress and anxiety. Finally I was a performer again and we had an amazing show in April.

I began the job interview process in May and ended up taking off a lot of work to attend interviews (as most teachers know you interview before a panel and if you can’t make it while the entire panel is there your chances are gone). Many schools were nice enough to arrange interviews by Skype so I wouldn’t have to miss work. But still my last paycheck came and I cried. The district had taken almost $2000 from me. And what’s worse my principal verbally attacked me for missing work when I feel of all people he should be supportive in helping me move forward. And because of the commuting and interviewing and driving, I had missed so much chorus rehearsal, I felt it only fair to drop out of our summer show. My heart is broken and I feel like I have nothing left.

****THIS HAS SINCE UPDATED 8/10/18….NOW THE GOOD NEWS: When I first started this fundraiser, I was offered a position teaching Visual and Performing arts for Greenfield Union School District in Monterey County. I took a weekend to go up there and explore the territory, instantly falling in love, but after crunching the numbers, even with the support of friends and family, found it economically insane for that to happen. So it was back to square one. However when God closes a door he opens a window and on Friday August 10th, I learned I had been chosen as Director of Music for Vista View Middle School, part of Ocean View School District in….guess where…yes. Back in Huntington Beach (where I moved from). If this isn’t a sign that I have unfinished business in the OC, I don’t know what is. I met with a really cool cat of a principal who is seeking to bring life and energy into his program, something I know I can do and which I have been begging to do since I left OC. Something is pulling me back. *********

HERE’S WHERE YOU COME IN: I can’t afford to move. I am financially not cutting it right now, even with working an additional two jobs and collecting unemployment over the summer. I can’t do this alone. I am not simply asking for help from you to cover my relocation expenses or to aid myself and bills that I am so behind on. Fortunately by staying within my property management company, I can do a lease transfer and won’t lose any money regarding rent. I was able to refinance my car loan to avoid repossession. If it takes Uber driving all day and all night I will….as long as I don’t kill anyone. But remember, this isn’t just for me.

When I think about it, I am doing this more for my students. As a music teacher and program director, my students have always come first as I have sacrificed my free-time into helping them realize their utmost potential with late-night and weekend rehearsals, chaperoning endless field and camping trips, and putting much of myself and what I have to give into my program when others would not. They are my kiddos. Even though this past year was a struggle, and some of the things that were said to me can never be repeated, I supported them and cared for them when others would not. I need to be the best teacher I can be, not for me but for them, trapped in a hole I can’t dig myself out of.

I am not asking for sympathy, but if you believe in arts education and the advancement of music in public schools, to consider donating to my relocation not just to help me but to help my mission in keeping such programs alive in a Trump-esque time when music is the first to go, something of which I encountered firsthand as I am not bilingual.

I love my kids so much, but I invest so much in them, my stress, depression, and anxiety are at an all-time high. Mental Health and Depression are silent killers.

Thank you all for listening and I sincerely thank any and all support. There is work to be done. And attention must be paid.

Please enjoy some of the photos and performances from some of the best kids I’ve had the privilege to work with.

Spirit Expressions Dance Family (Laingsburg, MI)- Summer of 2018
Greenfield Middle School (El Cajon, CA)- Little Mermaid Jr., Willy Wonka Jr.
El Rancho Charter School (Anaheim Hills)-Preview of Legally Blonde

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