The countdown begins

T – 365 actually now 361 since I’m posting a few days late!


One year from today, May 21, 2010,  is my official retirement date. It can’t come soon enough…not that I want to wish time away, but every day I realize how much more that it really is time for me to retire.


I think I’d like to take this opportunity to periodically tell some stories from my 36 years of teaching to celebrate my upcoming future.

Story 1 – How I Got My First Job

After I graduated from Ohio University in December 1973 I knew that there would be no school jobs open for an SLP midyear, so I took the time to go to Pitt to take a few grad classes, investigate other grad schools, and work as a cashier for Lerner Shops (my salary was minimum wage, $2.70/hr…yep, you read that right).  After looking around at grad schools I decided that I really did want to work first and then do grad school part time. So I started applying for school-based SLP positions (SLP is Speech-Language Pathologist if you didn’t know). I sent applications in to the Pittsburgh Public Schools, the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, the Cleveland Public Schools, and the Fairbanks Public Schools –yes, Fairbanks, ALASKA.

The Allegheny IU indicated they had no positions but would keep my application on file. Fairbanks interviewed me by phone and my mother nearly had a heart attack because she always called me her “wandering Jew” and was totally convinced that I would be offered that job and would be gone in a heartbeat. I wasn’t offered the job.  I was contacted by the personnel office of both Pittsburgh and Cleveland to schedule an interview.  (I LOVED Cleveland, btw as I had done my student teaching there and really enjoyed the city…loved those inner city kids, I truly did. What heresy that would have been for a Pittsburgher to move to Cleveland…but, I had a great time with the radio stations during all the Steelers games…and I would ALWAYS be a Steeler fan no matter where I lived!)

Back to the story….so, I scheduled an interview for Cleveland and asked my mom to come with me on the roadtrip. She was always SOOOO MUCH FUN to travel with…she was like a great girlfriend…loads of fun…shits and giggles!  And, Pittsburgh had their own style of interviewing and they told me when to come in for the meeting. 


Cleveland was first. So, we set off for the adventure, got checked into a nice hotel (Cleveland is only about a 2 1/2 hour drive from the ‘Burgh, right up the turnpike…EZ) had some dinner and I practiced answering some questions with mom…we watched some TV and the next day I had the interview. It went FANTASTICALLY well. I felt very confident and was getting all positive vibes from the interviewees. So thay thanked me and said they would be in touch. So, we get back on the road to head home and a TORNADO hits northern Ohio. It hit Xenia, Ohio to be exact but then traveled right along the northern boundary of the state and was wreaking havoc on the Ohio Turnpike. I have NEVER been in rain and wind like that in my entire life. Cars were pulled off all over the road and lots of cars were parked under overpasses. It was just so dangerous driving but becasue of the number of cars pulled over, it was almost just as dangerous trying to stop cause you’d just get blown into someone if you didn’t keep going. So, we did keep going and my heart was in my throat the entire drive back to Pittsburgh. Once we got near Sharon, PA the winds died down a bit, but that was closest I had ever come myself to being in a tornado. Kind of made the positive nature of the interview that much better!


Next came Pittsburgh and can I tell you that it was a really terrifying interview scenario. I went into a room with about 10 professionals all holding clipboards and score sheets. As each asked me a question, it was like staring down the barrel of a gun (and yes, unfortunately I had the terrifying experince of doing that, but that is another story)…I would answer each question and one at a time they would mark their score cards. I mean, NO FEEDBACK, NO FACIAL EXPRESSIONS, NADA! After about an hour, they said thank you and that was it. Don’t call us, we’ll call you…literally!


So, I went back to Lerners and worked…and waited.  As August rolled around I started getting nervous and made a couple phone calls. Both Cleveland and Pittsburgh said they hadn’t made decisions yet and I’d hear from them. Arghhhhh!   So, I wait, and wait, and wait.  One week before school was set to start I figured I would call one more time, Pittsburgh first… and here is the response I got from Pittsburgh.

Me:    “Hello, this is DH and I’m calling to inquire as to whether the SLP positions have been filled for this year.”

Them:   “DH? Well, we were wondering when you were coming in to sign your papers.”

Me:    “Sign papers? What papers?”

Them:   “Your contract. You do still wnat to work for us, don’t you?”

Me:    (sincerely speechless for probably the first time in my life)…”Contract? You mean I got the job? Nobody called me!”

Them:   “Yea, you have the job if you come in to sign your contract.”

And THAT was how I found out I got my first job.   I went in immediately that day to sign my contract, sign all the other paperwork required, yadda, yadda, yadda.     Now, there is ALWAYS irony in my life..ALWAYS.

The very next day, around 8AM, the Cleveland Public Schools called to offer me the job.  WFT!  I really wanted the Cleveland job more, really, really did and it KILLED me to tell them that I had just literally signed the contract with Pittsburgh. They actually asked me to go back to the Pittsburgh Schools and cancel the contract…they said I could do that since it was within 24 hours. But, I am a person of honor and integrity (I am, really) and just could not nor would not do that. As fate would have it, I met my future husband at the end of that first year of teaching/SLPing. 


Ahhhh, all things happen for a reason.  So, that is how I got my first teaching job 36 years ago. My salary $8,600.00. I was in heaven!  The story still makes me smile…

Next up…the first apartment and first car.


6 Responses to “The countdown begins”

  1. May 24, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    This is such a wonderful idea! I should share mine, too. There were some similarities – I think districts can be very disorganized.

    You certainly had an adventure.

    I’m delighted you took the Pittsburgh job for obvious reasons, but who knows, maybe you would have met your husband in any case.

  2. May 25, 2009 at 12:52 am

    Wait, what? You met dad when you were 23? I thought you were older than that. Although now that I’m doing the math in my head, I guess it’s right. Weird, for some reason I always thought you were a bit older when you guys met.

  3. 3 judie
    May 25, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    glad to see you are back and counting, hahaha…

  4. 4 hotmamamia
    May 26, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Jen—‘meeting’ my husband is a story in and of itself..one that I, too, will share at some point. I’ll look forward to reading your stories too!

  5. May 26, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    That is a very cool story!! Congrats on getting both job! Pittsburgh was very lucky to snag you when they did!

  6. October 21, 2009 at 7:40 am

    really interesting post thanks.

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