• Tiye Naeemah Cort

Taking a Break

I spent the past 4 years teaching. I didn't even make it to the typical 5-year mark before deciding that it was finally time to throw in the towel. It's funny. Every year, after winter break, I said that it would be my last year in the classroom, and yet every year I've found myself back in a classroom, setting up bulletin boards and planning another nine months of material. This time around, I was serious. Although I will be spending time in university classrooms, it won't be half as much work as what I was doing teaching teenagers.

This June, when I packed up my classroom and prepared to return to Boston for the summer, something told me that there was a pretty good chance that I would not be returning. I packed up my stapler, desk accessories, and favorite pens into my bright pink crate, and place them in a closet in my apartment instead of leaving them in my classroom over the summer.

It was tough to tell my colleagues and friends that I would return in the fall, even though up until the last day of school I was about 99% sure I was. The very next day, I received an email from my new advisor letting me know that the department had worked out a funding package for me. I had a choice to make and it was almost a no-brainer. I have always been able to remember my priorities, and that made the decision very easy to make. I remember praying for things to work out even better this year concerning time management and being able to do everything I wanted without taking on too much. And isn't that the biggest concern for teachers who decide to continue their own education? Thankfully, God provided an opportunity for me to make that happen- focus on my degree and take a break from teaching. 

I moved to Austin for my doctoral program, first and foremost. Finding a job at a Christian school was definitely icing on the cake, but my first priority was and has remained my own education. Now that I was offered a position that would directly impact and set me on the path to exactly where I want to be in my career (outside of the classroom), I had no reason to turn it down. Believe me, I battled with the decision to leave my amazing students, a great teaching job, and the major pay cut is far from glamorous, but I had to do it. 

It was not an easy decision, but it was one of the best decisions I've made in my brief career. I encourage educators to remember their priorities. Teaching is a constant learning experience, and it is very necessary to take advantage of growth opportunities along the way. For me, it's full-time dedication to being a Ph.D. student and sacrificing a signed contract and financial comfort for a few months, maybe years. It's making the decision to call my boss and have the "I quit" conversation, even though only a few months prior I had applied to be school's the academic counselor. 

Leaving a teaching position is never easy, but I am replaceable. My students will get over the initial disappointment, and I am sure that whoever replaces me as their English teacher will be the best thing for them. It is bittersweet, but I look forward to being able to come home and not have to worry about lesson planning, grading, or meetings with parents after school. It's going to be a whole new life on the other side of the curtain!


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