I stared at the questions on the paper in front of me. I had 20 minutes to write my answers. The provided pen, however, stayed on the table. I was ready for this – guns loaded. A skim-read over the computer-typed words confirmed that I would answer each question in some way, even if it was indirectly. The presentation I had prepared was impressive and more than sufficient.
This wasn’t just about me. This was about maintaining a relationship; being given the opportunity to continue in a partnership that bordered on perfection.
I had almost lost Tammy two years before. When our number of Kindergarten classes was reduced because of low registration, I was given a different assignment for the following year, but my Early Childhood Educator (ECE) lost her job at our school.
She had applied to a school where they were just starting the full-day Kindergarten program, so they had no ECEs yet, and they were hiring seven. Her odds of getting the job were really good. So, I placed my bets and threw my winning hand on the table.
The original version of the 30-minute presentation on my iPad included photos of our program and highlighted the strength of our team – together. I was not promoting myself for that interview – I was promoting our team.
Tammy and I were as different as fish and birds. She wore baseball caps and high-top sneakers, played on a soccer team, and was young enough to be my daughter (if I had started childbearing as a teenager). I brought my students to the gym in high heels, carrying a travel-cup of coffee in my hand, and team sports was not in my vocabulary. The point is: we were very different.
It was our differences, however, that made us a great team. We had that perfect work marriage where one complemented the other. She picked up in the areas where I was weak (Arts, Phys Ed, Child Development); and I focussed more on the academic, weaving the curriculum into our program, having the knowledge and experience of a career with a wide variety of roles. We fit together like 2 pieces of a puzzle. After two years of teaching together, it felt like we shared a brain. We literally finished each other sentences and parroted, “I was thinking the same thing!”
The interviewing principal didn’t have a chance. All the keywords and phrases were in there. The educational jargon mixed beautifully with the photos of children in a successful learning environment. It wasn’t a hard sell. She knew she was getting something special by keeping our team together.
Two years later, however, with the news that our school of over 800 would be severed in half, Tammy’s position was on the chopping block again. It was an unwelcome deja-vu as she put her name in to work at the new school where they needed to hire all new ECEs. I rolled the dice again and applied for the job.
I had updated the slideshow and included in the accompanying three-prong folder unsolicited letters from parents who had expressed their appreciation for our team to the Superintendent, a glowing performance appraisal from my current principal, documentation which showed that videos we’d made as a team were being used in teacher/ECE training, and the written accolades from one that we made with our students which was shown in a conference by our Superintendent in Brazil.
I wasn’t nervous. There was no way an intelligent employer would turn down a ready-made dream team.
She laughed; she nodded her head; she smiled encouragingly. I felt good. I felt confident as I left the conference room.
On the night that the job offers were occurring, Tammy and I sat together and waited. When the phone rang, we held our breath in anticipation, only to discover the caller was a telemarketer. The hours dragged by, until we knew in our hearts that the call wasn’t coming. We cried in each other’s arms. It was over.
We’re still friends, but that was our final year working together.
Why? Why did that principal not see the benefits of a package deal? Why was everything I had, just not good enough?
A job interview can be a terrifying stage. While the principal I spoke about nodded and smiled, the other interviewer in the room wrote down every word I said. Even after I assured her that the words to my script were included in the folder I gave each of them, she kept her head down and wrote for the entire interview, never making eye contact or encouraging me in any way. Whoever came up with this ‘behavioural interview’ idea should be tarred and feathered.
When you get off the stage where you had an audience of two, everyone around you asks how it went; as they formulate their own predictions. When the word comes out that you were unsuccessful, not only are you disappointed with the outcome, you are then embarrassed too. You clearly didn’t give an effective performance.
But, wait! Who was I performing for again? Was it for the people who might judge me, who weren’t even there? Was it for the principal who hired a teacher she knew from her previous school instead of me? Was it for Tammy? For myself?
The Christian attitude in this mess is that I’m a child of God. I did my best with His help. Then I let Him take it from there. If He didn’t work things out for me to have that job, He had something else in mind for me. If I give Him the role of Director in my life, I shouldn’t get overly upset over not receiving a job offer.
Instead, I trust in his promise:
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.Romans 8:28
However, that “working together” part may not be instantaneous. My next two years without Tammy were difficult, and I really missed our partnership. She too faced challenges with her new teacher team.
Since that night when we cried together, so many things have changed. I work in a new school in another area of town; we moved into a condo and became empty-nesters with our family of five becoming two; I’ve taken up a volunteer role as a newspaper editor and I’ve put more priority on my writing. Tammy is now a mother of three beautiful girls – the last two, identical twins born during the pandemic, and her pre-maternity job was in the federal government, not education.
Did God work things out for our good? I believe He did. And He continues to fulfill His plans in our lives – the long-range ones – for as long as we allow Him to be the Director of our show!