Thursday, August 14, 2008


I didn’t sleep all night. Every clinking sound from my rabbit, PBJ’s cage made me jump. Although the hummingbird hadn’t hurt me, or even grazed me, it was still scary.

Then it was off to work. But the school seemed different somehow, like it was smiling when I pulled into the parking lot. All day long, the children’s stories of the tiny little arenas of the physical universe that they had discovered were like small jewels that I wanted to keep but had to watch pour through my fingers. And the little smiles on those precious little faces were lovelier than ever.

And finally, I was on my way to a place that I felt would be more dreamlike than anything I had experienced in the past few days – and that’s quite a feat!

I arrived at the school board building only to be told that there was no butterfly garden or wizard gnome. “Miss, are you sure that it was the school board building you’re supposed to…”

“Absolutely certain. It says so right here,” I assured her as I pulled the invitation form my purse in an attempt to show it to her. A slender hand with coral-painted nails snatched the envelope from my hand. An older woman, slender, read-headed with clear-framed glasses smiled at me. “I’ll escort her to the appropriate conference room, Minerva,” she told the receptionist, who looked at both of us with a notable look before turning her attention back to the piles of stacks of data in front of her. “Follow me, please.”

The woman led me to a side door, down a few halls, around a few corners, and I thought for a second she was just walking me out to the parking lot. But when the tall wooden doors parted, I realized that we had reached what had to be the butterfly garden. Perfectly chiseled hedges formed a decagonal enclosure of colorful hibiscus and rhododendrons. The grassy area within was filled with tables upon which peach tablecloths were strewn, and chairs with matching covers. In the middle of all stood an enormous statue of a dwarf, standing about 7 feet tall, much larger than any dwarf could have been expected to stand. “Please have a seat in any of the empty chairs.” The woman smiled and left me.

It didn’t take long to realize that the hummingbird wasn’t the only unusual element associated with this experience.

Before long, things got moving. I was entertained by dancing sprites, and fire-breathing dragonflies. I was inspired by the students of former program graduates. I was fed a spectacular array of culinary delights, including some unusual items I have no name for. And finally, when all of the fanfare was over, I was left with a choice. I could choose to participate in the program and enjoy a transformation that would enable me to bloom as a certified, licensed teacher. All of my tuition, books, and most fees would all be paid for. I had the opportunity to go to college with the minimum price-tag of my time and determination. Or, I could go back to my job as an assistant and put school off for later, perhaps for never. The program looked pretty good.

But there were some boundaries as well. In order to participate in the program, I had to agree to pursue a degree in an area in which there is a critical shortage. I also had to agree to finish within the next three years. It would be likely that I would need to take a leave of absence, forgoing the benefits of having a paycheck, until I was finished. No money for years?

The quill was in my hands.

I took the plunge.

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