The Crazy Giant Step

princiI saw a writing prompt the other day about “walking on the moon”. It wanted to know: “What giant step did you take in your life? Did you succeed?”

The answer is uh, NO, I did not succeed.

The beginning of this manic tale starts with me innocently in college and getting ready to graduate. I went to school in a very small town and I wanted to teach elementary school. There was no chance of doing that there….they were bursting at the seams with teachers…so I moved to the big city.

It takes time to get all of your paperwork together for a teaching application and I took a job as a server at a nice restaurant. I was amazingly manic and wow did I ever make the tips. Looking back, I made much more than I did teaching. Unfortunately, you can’t be a depressed server, but I digress…..

I applied for a sixth grade job and got it. Now this was a “special” school…they used a “special” kind of reading program that was very popular in those days. So parents tended to flock to this school and try to get their kids in. These parents were fundamentalist “holy roller” types. They wanted lots of God in the public schools. It was sort of a mess. Fortunately, I had nothing big against God. I tried to keep the worst of it out and we all got along fine. I was a very popular teacher.

Meanwhile, I was manic and bored. I decided my first year of teaching I wanted to be a principal. Just like that. We had a large university close by, so I signed up for my Masters program and started going to school at night. I worked all day, studied all night, and had a 3.9 GPA when I finished. I was on the fast track.

I was teaching in a giant district and they had a program for future administrators. It was hard to get into, but I made it. I was the youngest and there weren’t many women. But the thing went on for two years and I figured I could learn all there was to know about being a principal during that time.

One day my principal shows up at my classroom door and wants to see me. Uh, wow. It seems there is a small district across town that needs a principal NOW. (This was in October.) The reason they were sniffing around me was because I knew all about this special reading program. Their school also used this “special” program. And the holy rollers over there insisted on getting a principal familiar with it.

I reminded my principal I was only 25. He said “Yeah, but you never know when another offer might come along.” I asked him when they wanted to interview me. He said, “THEY ARE IN MY OFFICE RIGHT NOW.”

This should have been a clue. I asked them where the previous principal was and they said she had been sick for over a year. The secretary had basically been running the school. Gee.

So of course I took this job. Piece of cake. No problem. I went out over the weekend, bought some suits, and got ready.

The first day I arrived I was greeted by my saintly secretary. She was amazing and really glad to see me. Interestingly enough, the power went off about 10 am. She said “It always does that. The ladies have turned the big ovens on to cook lunch. This is an old building.” Oh, boy.

As you can imagine, with no one running this show, things were in quite a mess. I didn’t eat and dropped 25 pounds in short order. My skirts got way too big. But I was manic, and just took things one item at a time. I was doing a decent job.

Now I wasn’t the sort of person that normally worried about everyone liking me. I had been popular enough in high school, but not crazy popular. And that’s how I figured I’d be here. I really tried to be nice to all of the teachers as best I could. Except the librarian. I hated the librarian. She was mean and always took food off the kids’ plates at lunch and ate it. Then the parents would call me and complain. This drove me crazy. I think she was nuts.

I had to fire a teacher. It was a male middle grade teacher. Contrary to popular belief, you CAN fire a teacher. Or at least you could. This guy’s file was littered with disciplinary slips of problems he had had. With me, it started when I went in his room one day and he was not there but the kids were. He was on the phone in the teachers lounge. He was running a fencing business on the side. I wrote him up for leaving the kids alone. I did a thorough, solid write up. A week later, I caught him again. Wrote him up again. Next thing I knew, he got mad and threw a bottle of White Out (does anyone know what that is?) and hit a kid in the eye with it. I wrote him up, had him sign it, and took all this paperwork down to HR. The next school board meeting, the guy was fired.

Sadly, he was best friends with the crazy librarian. So she told everyone I was on a mission to get rid of them all and they had better watch out. Sigh.

The good news here was I was making really good money and was too busy to spend it. I bought a condo very close to the school. That worked out as I had to spend a lot of evenings there at events. It was a K-8 school so we even had dances.

But as any bipolar knows, stress is the trigger for bad things. And they were sure on the way…..



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