Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Is it time to retire yet?

I've been stressed out lately and it's mostly because of work. It seems like that is mostly what my life consists of now.....in fact, sadly, sometimes it feels like that's all there is. I guess when you have stress in one part of your life, it spills over to the rest of your life. So here's what it's all about. Over the summer I was offered a job from where I did my first practicum. They really wanted me and were willing to match my salary from the CCIU (where I currently work). I turned it down because I decided that too much was changing in my life and I wanted something to stay the same. I thought it would be too stressful to start a new caseload and a new set of paperwork when I had finally gotten used to my own. I started the year assuming it would be a good year. The first week I had new professional induction/in-services that I never took last year. The first day I went to sign some paperwork for HR and found out that I wasn't going to be paid for having my masters. I was bummed but quickly got over it because I was making more money than I ever had before. HR made it sound like there was nothing I could do about it. I peacefully accepted it and move on. I started the school year still optimistic that it was going to be a good year. I quickly caught up with the teachers and remembered why I clicked with Vincent Elementary School. Then the size and stress of my caseload began to overwhelm me. I realized that I have quite a few high maintenance cases this year, including the one that was in due process last year. The parents are insisting on speech 3 times a week and they are horrible. Of course the school is bending over backwards for them....it really doesn't matter what I think. I also have 3 different schools that I am servicing so I have to drive all over the place, including high school (where I really have no clue what I'm doing). I can accept that though because it's a part of the job. It's a stressful job with a high rate of burnout. So I was stressed but accepting it until 2 weeks ago......the straw that broke the camel's back or the icing on the cake or whatever cliche you would like to use.......... happened 2 Tuesdays ago. My supervisor called a meeting with me. I thought it was about the new services I was providing (I am consulting with an ESL teacher for kids with special needs). I thought we were just going to go over the new program I am pretty much starting from scratch myself. Well, I was wrong. We did talk about that too but the reason she called the meeting was because of a meeting she had with a director from HR. He called a meeting with her to talk about my behavior at the new professional induction. She said he was "up in arms" (I'm directly quoting her) about how unprofessional I acted during the 7 hours of lecture. I had the audacity to yawn and look sleepy. He said it was very clear to him that I did not want to be there. Can I hear a DUH????? Who enjoys those in-services? I bet 90% of the room didn't want to be there. Besides that, I was also taking medicine for my broken hand and it made me sleepy.....and sleepy people yawn. So I am sorry that I can't be giggley and perky and cute when I am sitting listening to lectures for 7 1/2 hours two days in a row while on medication that makes you drowsy. It was an in-service!!!!!!!! Most of my co-workers wear jeans to our department in-services. I was so angry at how judgmental he was. He had no idea what kind of therapist, person, or worker I was. He completely based his opinion of me on one isolated event. Unfortunately I know it happens so much in our world. We base so much on appearances rather than taking a deeper look. I felt completely judged by my supervisor the entire rest of the meeting.......it really felt like she was looking me up and down. She just told me to watch how I presented myself around the directors. The thing is, he isn't even my director. My director is head of student services, not HR. I went back to the speech room angry and upset that he would do such a thing and make me feel so awful about myself. I wanted to cry but I couldn't because there were 3 other women in the room. I decided to put my energy into something productive....I immediately began to look for another job. I sent an email to the woman who wanted to hire me over the summer (Devereux). She said they were still looking for someone. Over the weekend I talked to her on the phone. They were even willing to give me $2,000 more than they had originally said, the caseload would be less stressful, I would only be at one school, and I would only have a 10-15 minute drive as opposed to 40-45 min. I was still torn though because I had made a commitment to the IU and I hate breaking my commitments. I also had invested a lot into this year getting my schedule set up. I also didn't know if I could get out of my contract and I didn't want to burn any bridges. I talked to my family about it and they couldn't understand why I wouldn't take it. I thought they would say I needed to keep my commitment to the IU because the year had already started. I started to lean towards taking it but wasn't completely sure. I was praying about it and I felt at peace about taking the new position. On Monday morning I decided to take it so I set up a meeting with my supervisor to give her my resignation. I was about to call Devereux to accept the job and saw that I had a missed call. I listened to the message that was informing me that someone else had just accepted the position at Devereux minutes before I was going to accept it. I was disappointed but ok with it. I decided to keep my appointment with my supervisor to discuss my issues with the IU. We looked at the contract together and didn't see how they could possibly get away with not paying me for my masters. I forgot to mention why they weren't paying me for my masters. In PA it is required to have a teaching certificate to work in the school system. I didn't finish my PRAXIS exams because I was busy studying for the national exam I had to take to get certified. I am on emergency certification and was planning to take my tests this Fall. Therefore, I am on the lowest possible Track possible. I am on Track A and should be on Track E (a difference of more than $6,000). Anyway, I was mad about the money by this point so I told my supervisor this. I killed myself to finish school in 2 years to get my masters while working 3 jobs and I have $80,000 in college debt. I felt like the IU was taking advantage of me because they thought they could get a masters educated person and only pay at the lowest scale possible. I felt like they were "laughing all the way to the bank." So like I said before, the contract says that Track E is for anyone with a Masters Degree. It says absolutely nothing about emergency certification. So my supervisor and I went to our director (of student services) and he agreed with us. He said he would talk to HR and get me the money. My supervisor stressed to him that I was doing Spanish evaluations for the IU (I am the only one in the county doing them) and she didn't want to lose me. I left the meeting confident that I would be paid what I had earned because I know how desperate they are for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) with masters degrees (because many school districts won't accept people with a Bachelors) and I also have the Spanish background (which is also rare). I felt like they would fight to keep me just because they didn't want to lose me. Well, I was wrong. I got a visit from my supervisor the next day saying she had gone to the director of HR and he said no so they went to the executive director of HR and he also said no. The only thing left to do was go to the Executive director of the entire company or go to the Union. My supervisor said she would keep on fighting for me. I was mad again after meeting with her so I contacted EBS Healthcare, who had tried to get me to work for them since March. They are willing to fight for me when my own company isn't willing to fight to keep me. The stupid thing is that they easily have the money. They are a huge corporation who receives state and federal aid. Unfortunately for them they are more concerned about money and policy above anything else. Another stupid thing is this: I offer a service (Doing bilingual evals) that no one else in the company offers. If I leave, they can no longer offer that service. The potential money it has is far more than the money they should be paying me. So really it is a stupid business move on their part. So I have decided that I am tired of fighting for it and I am most likely going to leave. I told EBS to make me an offer and find me a position. EBS seems to be more of what I am about anyways. They started as a non-profit organization and are focused on reaching out. They even have international clinics to educate parents, teachers, and other professionals about such issues as autism and literacy. They send employees to Tanzania, Ukraine, and South America to help improve the services for kids with special needs. I could be a part of this during the summer if I want to be. I had a visit from my mentor yesterday and ended up crying for about an hour during our meeting. She was very sweet and understanding and made me feel better about leaving. She reminded me that it wasn't my fault. I don't want to be irresponsible and leave now that the year has started but I also don't want to be miserable and stressed all year. I have come home and crashed because I don't feel like facing anything or anyone. I have done my best to hide out because the list of other things I could be doing seem so overwhelming. So please pray that I will seek God for guidance rather than making a decision based on hurt and anger. Sorry for the long detailed post, but I was way overdue :).

3 Comments:

At 2:30 PM, Blogger Jessica said...

Oh, Nina....now I see why everyone has been telling me to enjoy my unemployment while I can. Between your stories and Becca's.... I'll be praying hard for you. I can kinda relate to the feelings you're having....kinda...and I know it's hard. Keep me posted.

 
At 9:11 PM, Blogger Nikki said...

Wow! Nina, I had no idea that you were going through this also. I pray that God would use this to draw you close to Him as He has me. I'll give more details later.
Be blessed!

 
At 1:38 PM, Blogger Beccalynn said...

Oh, I'm so sorry! I kinda know how you feel being in the public schools...I mean all the red tape and junk they throw at perfectly capable individuals...but I kinda don't because, well, that's crazy. I'm proud of you for taking the decision to find something else. You DON"T want to be miserable all year and no one should treat you that way. I hate big corporations!!! I'll be praying for you, girl! I miss you and I've wanted to call you for SO LONG but I have been too busy and haven't gotten to it but know that I THINK about it at least once a a day. And I pray for you regularly. And will continue to do so now that I know more of the specifics of your life. Te quiero mucho mucho mucho!!!

 

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