Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nudged Out Without Even Knowing It


About eight years ago, when I was still in Newport News, Virginia, I thought I was in line for being the Department head for the Vocational Department. I felt like I had kissed all the right asses, befriended many of the right people, and displayed the skills that they would seek in their next Department Head.

The year I thought I would get the job I was told by our Navy ROTC instructor that he was going to be acting Department Head. I knew he hadn’t wanted that job whatsoever. He had told me so. Then he told me something and swore me to secrecy. You see, the plan was to bring a woman over from one of the other high schools to replace the outgoing Department Head. Her husband was a principal at another school and friends with the Business Department at the School Board.

In the past, decision as to who was Department Head was made at the school level but that was changed without notice and would now be decided by the person who headed the department at the School Board level. I hadn’t seen or heard anything officially so I think I kind of drifted in a state of limbo. I couldn’t believe that they were already bringing someone over, that this person had already been promised that job, when the position was vacant now.

The official word was that the ROTC teacher was THE Department Head and not the Acting Department Head. I remember mourning the position I tried so hard to earn. At the same time, as with some people in mourning, I operated in a state of denial. After all, I was told that our Principal would be interviewing for the job. I decided to approach our Acting Department Head and volunteer to help him as much as possible. By doing this I hoped to be seen as a person who could easily step into his shoes because I was doing a good deal of his job anyway. I knew that he had told me he would put in a good word for me but cautioned me to remember that NNCS was a school of cronyism. I wasn’t in with the right person, the person at the school board level. This woman was and had been friends with her for years.

In the middle of the year, one of our teachers retired and my rival came to our school. For me it was almost laughable. She sauntered into school moments before the bell rang. The second she could leave the building she would. There were many times during her planning period she would drone on and on while on the phone about how she needed to get her hair done or a manicure. Then when she was supposed to leave to supervise her co-op students she would say things like “Well I’m going to go get my nails done. I’d better hurry I have five minutes to make my appointment.” Other times she would gossip endlessly about people at other schools.

I was also supposed to leave to work with co-op students but would often help the person I was mentoring and checking on him before I left. I felt that the fact that I had been chosen to be a mentor was a good sign. It proved that they felt I had leadership qualities. I put away copies of thank you letters from parents, students, teachers, and employers to use during my interview to demonstrate my ability to be Department Head.

I was working so hard to prove a point I don’t think I even was fully aware about how much I had vested in the interview. Even though I knew that this job had basically already been promised to someone else, I still felt that I would blow the interview out of the water. Not with personal attacks against my rival, but with documentation proving that I was capable of doing the job I really wanted.

Finally the day came for the interview. It was the end of school and most of us were running around in jeans or shorts. I had brought a suit to wear during the interview. I gathered my portfolio and references. My competition sat at her desk talking about a cruise she and her husband were planning to take. I almost threw up three times on the way to the Principal’s office.

The interview began. The Principal asked questions and you could tell that the answers I was giving were good ones because almost without meaning to his head would bob up and down in agreement. I showed up evidence of my accomplishments and he glanced at some of them. He leaned forward, “Miss Miller (my name at the time), I think that you have more than demonstrated your ability. Since I’ve known you I can speak to your loyalty to our school and our students. Thank you for coming today and I will let you know our decision in a few days.”

I left nervous, and yes even a bit hopeful. Perhaps I’d worried for nothing. Maybe she wasn’t such a shoe-in after all. Maybe she’d come in as the prize pony and I had shown her up at the judging table. I knew when her interview was scheduled because I’d heard her tell someone the previous day. When the time came, she glanced at her watch, pushed out of the chair, and in a pair of shorts and an oversized t-shirt she got ready to leave. “Good luck” I said. “I’m certain you’ll do a fine job.” Although I didn’t quite feel that say I tried to be as sincerely as someone could when someone really, really, really wants something and another person stands in their way. She looked at me and smiled “Thanks.”

I think I was hurt because she didn’t even pretend to care about me. She didn’t say, “Thanks, Good luck to you too.” She didn’t wish me luck before my interview. I wondered if the interview would have even taken place if I hadn’t mentioned that I was interested in applying for the opening. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run out of the office and just sob. “Don’t give up.” I told myself. “It’s not over ‘til it’s over. Have faith Cathy.”

That was our last school day and for three days I awaited a phone call or a letter. I was told I would get a letter about the decision, either way. Darryl took me on vacation for a few days and when I came back there was still no letter. Should I take this as a good sign? Does this mean that perhaps the Principal really was so impressed by me that he was going to bat for me? After all I had a couple of Assistant Principals that had gone to bat for my case. Did it mean that I didn’t merit a letter?

Finally after two weeks, I decided to call. Even as I dialed the number I wanted to hang up. I didn’t want to seem demanding or bossy by bothering the Principal with a phone call. Still I couldn’t sleep wondering what the answer was. I called. I was told I didn’t get the Department Head job, I would be the only co-op teacher instead.

I was glad I had called. The principal wouldn’t seem my face as I tried not to sound like I was choking back the tears. When I hung up, I plopped down on a chair and stared that the table before I broke down and cried. All that for nothing.

Today I went over to one of my coworker’s classroom to say hi and gossip. She mentioned that we had a new Department Head next year. A WHAT????????????????? Oh didn’t you read the memo she asked? No I swear I didn’t’ get it. Our Principal feels that the people holding the job of Department Head have been the same for years. He announced to them that he had selected new Department Heads for all the Departments. He thought it would be a great idea to do this on a rotating basis. No announcement that a position had come open. No time to get worked up about it. I was just plain passed over again.

Now don’t get me wrong. I really and truly like the woman that they named as our new Department Head. I think I feel hurt because once again I was passed over without any consideration whatsoever for that position.

This time it’s different because I don’t believe I’ve put in the time, energy, and effort I did in pursuit of that position. I think I was waiting for the year before my current Department Head left and then I was going to try to throw myself into a fit activity. I felt that by that time I will have proved my metal. I’d told Darryl several times that I hoped to be the Department Head when Mrs. H steps down. K is happy because she says she has no interest in the position whatsoever. I on the other hand feel a bit let down. I don’t know that I will go home and sob, but I do know that I feel let down. For me, I feel that it’s proof once again that I’m not worth of consideration.

The funny thing is that today I found out I won one of the contests I have been trying to win, the Pepsi Throwback. I'm thrilled but I had already entered from someone elses blog today and hadn't realized that I already won on someone elses. Well still I feel pretty pumped about it.

Here are the blog contests I entered:

Prize: Bright Green reusable shopping bag and product coupons.

Prize: Pepsi Throwback prize pack with trucker cap, retro Pepsi tin lunch box, retro clock radio/CD player, USB lava lamp, Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback (ARV $150).

Prizes (2): Haagen-Dazs Five free product coupon.

Prizes (5): Beverly Hills 90210 The Seventh Season DVD

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