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Staying Alive
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I remember from the very beginning, when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, my mother telling me that I had to have a way to support myself, no matter what. Her recommendation was to get an elementary school teaching certificate, reasoning that people are always having children and our polity requires a free, public education for all children. She said that if worse came to worst, I could always teach.

I followed her advice and got myself a lifetime teaching credential for California as soon as I came back from overseas. I never intended to teach elementary school as a career, but it has always been a source of security that I could if I had to support myself somehow, even in poor health or with children of my own. Turns out my credential is good for Adult Ed as well, so there was another career path open to me, a fallback job in case of emergency. Since there is such a turnover in teachers, there are always positions available, though often only in the worst parts (housing projects) of town.

It was good advice, I think. She herself was left abandoned with two children; she was in poor health; she had a mortgage she couldn’t pay and no job skills. Who’s going to hire a BA in English, I ask you? It was a scary time and I vowed I would NEVER be in that position.

It can be a real disadvantage to be overqualified. In fact, I have on occasion “forgotten” to put all my qualifications on job apps in situations when I’ve needed to work a second job in bad economic times (paying the mortgage was always top on my priority list). Who’s going to hire an MA in South Asian Studies? I “forgot” to mention it and I dressed down and I talked second class English and hired on. They do tell you to dress for the job you want, do they not? It may have been manipulative and sneaky, but I can be very goal-oriented when it’s called for.

When I retire, I do think I'd like to teach part-time in some capacity. Once a teacher, always a teacher, I guess. Perhaps literacy for adults or women's survival classes or something. Suggestions always welcome.

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