Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Capstone Continues...

I began teaching college courses as a graduate student at Portland State University and was hired to teach at Portland Community College as a part time instructor before I had finished my Master’s degree. I continued to teach at both PSU and PCC for the next few years, as well as Clark College, and drove from campus, college, teaching site to campus, college and teaching site for about 500 miles a week. I became an educational prostitute: you pay me and I'll teach it. I taught an average of seven classes a term, mostly because I was afraid a class wouldn’t meet and I wouldn’t be able to feed my sons. I continued to work at the neighborhood store. I continued to collect newspapers. My sons grew old enough to have part-time jobs. We were breathing a bit easier by now.

Portland State University offered me a full-time teaching position on a grant. I was the first instructor to be hired in the department without a PhD. As a full-time instructor, I started the group advising sessions for Speech Communication majors, set the parameters for Speech minors and became the adviser for all minors. I juggled some 40 majors under my advisement as well. I stayed busy.

Meanwhile, I continued to teach at PCC, for I didn’t want to lose my classes if the grant money went away. When PCC offered me a temporary one-year teaching position, I hesitated because I didn’t want to lose my full-time position at PSU. But I decided I needed to take the risk—I needed a stable position not relying on grant money. When I told the department chair at PSU I was taking this position, he offered to hold the PSU position open to me if I needed to return. PCC also offered to hold my classes for me if I needed to return as a part time instructor. So I was a risk-taker who didn’t have to take any risks. PCC hired me, through an aggressive national search, as a full-time permanent-track the following year. I was on a tenure-track at last.

I started my tenure at Portland Community College teaching the required five classes and one overload. I also took on the position as the assistant coach to the Forensic Team. This meant I traveled with the speech team to all events, advised them, figured out the team budget, practiced with them, judged events, learning the whole business of Speech and Debate. The following year I became the acting director of the team. Each year we earned honors at nationals—both competing against other community colleges and against four-year colleges. The kids were just this great. Everything we tried, we did well. It was their talents and hard work that brought the honors. It was my guidance that created a team who cared about one another, working together, building on the relationships.

Over my 25 years at PCC, I have worked on many committees and workshops. I was one of the original members of the Diversity committee. I became the chair of the Student Graduation Speaker Selection committee, a position I held for over ten years. I worked on and then became the chair of Art Beat: a week of celebrating the arts, a position I held for ten years. I was a member of the Curriculum committee for many years, sat on the Educational Advisory Council for a few years. I created such courses as Nonverbal Communication, Gender and Communication, and Mass Media and Society for PCC. I created the Journalism program. I presented different topics and workshops for the Teacher Learning Center on campus at least once a year, often more frequently. I was a guest lecturer for many colleagues, from English Speakers of Other Languages classes to the Sign Language Program to Women’s Studies classes. I became the webmistress for the division, including the Forensic team, the Theatre schedule, the Northview Gallery, and Women’s Studies program. In 1994 I became the department chair for Performing Arts and continue to hold this position. In 2010, my chair position was split in half and I remained the chair of Communication Studies, Journalism, and Theatre Arts.

And on and on...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Capstone

I once read an interview with Anthony Bourdain, an American chef and author. He said he knows that deep inside him is a lazy hippy who’d be perfectly happy to lay on the couch, smoke weed and watch The Simpsons all day. He said he was afraid of that guy and his whole life was constructed to avoid reverting to him. So his motto has been to “Stay busy. Stay focused. Try not to mess up.” Like Bourdain, I have always been afraid someone would realize I was just this lazy drama queen who was simply sitting around on the couch, stoned every day, watching reruns of Perry Mason. So I have had to keep moving, keep working on hiding that lazy girl from the rest of the world. I finished high school, got pregnant, got married. My sons and I left that abusive marriage for welfare, moving on to find work as a teacher’s assistant in Special Education for Portland Public Schools. I surprised myself, having continually heard what a stupid fat woman I was, that within three years I had created a new position for Portland Public Schools and became the chair of the Special Education teacher aides. And then I stepped off the ledge to go to college at age 28. I wanted to be a Special Education teacher.

As I started classes, I worried that too many brain cells had died and I would not do well in school. After all, my sister was the smart one. So I just kept pushing myself. As an undergraduate student I wrote for the student newspaper, became the editor of the Marketing Association’s newsletter, and was a ghostwriter for a city councilperson, with the articles published in the Portland Observer. I also worked in the Office of Students with Disabilities, worked in the office of Speech Communication, all the while working 20-30 hours a week at a neighborhood market. I also worked as an aide for a man who was a quadriplegic, and in my spare time cooked and cleaned for a sweet little old lady who lived down the street.

It was important for me to graduate in four years—my sons needed me to start earning us a living—so I took 15-18 credit hours a term. I started teaching college courses while I was an undergraduate, even initiating two courses: Barriers to Communication: Communicating with People with Disabilities, and Communication and Obesity. At the end of my four years, I graduated with high honors as well as selected as an outstanding undergraduate student by the Department of Speech Communication. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication and in Sociology, with a minor in Journalism. I was selected as the graduation speaker. I had obviously held off that lazy drama queen for a bit. I also no longer wanted to teach in Special Education. I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I knew it wasn't in Special Ed.

I graduated into a poor economy. The joke was, “How many Oregonians does it take to change a light bulb? Only one but 300 applied for the job.” I wanted to move to southern Oregon to live on the Klamath Indian Reservation as a house-sitter, and write as a freelance journalist. My former husband sued me for custody. I won the court battle, but it took such a beating on my sons I gave up this idea. I continued to work at the neighborhood store and earn money in any manner I could. I collected newspapers from the neighbors to turn in for money. I swept the parking lot at the store for $5. I turned in cans, sewed clothes for people, and lived frugally. Over the years as a student and then as a graduate we had our water shut off, heat shut off. We lived on food charged at the neighborhood store—bean and cheese burritos were 49 cents and boxed macaroni and cheese was a dime. We humbly received government cheese, powdered milk, pasta, and butter. When Portland State University called asking if I would be interested in earning a graduate degree as a teaching assistant, I didn’t hesitate. While I had no desire to earn a Master’s degree, I couldn’t overlook that PSU was not only paying for my education, it was paying me to be there. Ironically, out of the five graduate assistants hired my first year, I was initially the only one to complete my degree.

To be continued~~~

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Roosters Love Hens

Made this little wallhanging for a friend who loves roosters. She and her husband have been going through a tough time with illness and aging and, well, illness and aging. So I thought I would make her something fun :)

Problem is that the blue in the body bleed. Pre-washed and added a catcher when I washed it again. Still bleed. Hate to give an excellent quilter something that is not top quality.

But I will :) Sending my friend positive energy~~~

Saturday, April 02, 2011

What's Next?

I'm ready for something new. But I am not sure what yet.

I used to want to be a ballerina but I think that goal might not be appropriate at this time.

I also wanted to be a princess...but I have already surpassed and become a queen.

I could be a singer...except I don't sing well.

I could be a truck driver, visiting people across the nation.

How about a firefighter? Except I just can't do that much any more.

How about a dog trainer? I like dogs.

I don't know what's next. But something new is coming.