Happy Homemaker, Ph.D.

A novice homemaker's attempts to use her engineering Ph.D. to serve her family

My School Days Are Numbered… For Now

on December 7, 2011

I tallied it up the other day.  I’ve been a full-time student or teacher for 23 years.  Add to that a year of kindergarten (back in the days of 1/2-day kindergarten, a year of pre-school, and 4.5 years of part-time master’s degree study, and I’ve been in school most of my 34 years.  That’s not a bad thing.  You see, I love school!  🙂 

So, it’s strange to think about leaving my job at the university, with my duties with students finishing up in the next two weeks.  No more classes.  No more homework.  No more grading.

You think I’d be doing my happy dance (which is really just jumping up and down with happy screaming)!  🙂  And when grades are in, I (and my whole family) will be celebrating, but this week, as I prepare to give my final “lectures,” I’m finding this ending bittersweet.   

I don’t think it really hit me until I talked with a colleague last week and realized how much I had learned about and from my students these last four years.  I have learned to meet them where they are at.  I have made adjustments to try to speak their language.  I have grown to deeply care for many of them.   Approximately 1,350 students have taken my classes in four years.  I have learned every name.  I have worked hard to serve them and to prepare them well for the workforce. 

I remember dreaming about teaching when I was just an undergraduate student, and maybe even before then.  Many times, I have walked into the front of a dark lecture hall in the engineering building at my alma mater, picked up a piece of chalk, and imagined a full classroom of students before me.   The thought still gives me goosebumps, the good, this-is-what-I’m-meant-to-do kind of goosebumps. 

But this is a season for a different focus.  Is this an end to my teaching and learning?  I couldn’t stop if I tried.  🙂  I’ve always wanted to go back to my Bird, Stewart, and Lightfoot text someday and really understand Transport Phenomena.  I want to learn more about entrepreneurship.  I want to continue to do some research on applied statistics and analyze data, even if it is just from my processes at home.  I also want to learn to sew and crochet, less “academic” (and probably more difficult) skills that will likely serve me better in the coming years. 

And teaching?  I have a sweet toddler who seems to love learning, too, and I am blessed to be able to teach a classroom of 1, soon to be 2, in our home (rather than my usual 180!).  I’m still a teacher, but only the Lord knows how He will use these unique gifts and interests now and in the future. 

I’m trusting Him in new ways through this transition, and despite my uneasiness about this decision at times, I am really excited about this step!   The last time I was asked to step out in faith like this, God provided abundantly, made my dreams of Ph.D. study come true, and brought me together with the man of my dreams! 

May I live with joyful anticipation of what He has planned for us as we follow His direction!

~Dana

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2 responses to “My School Days Are Numbered… For Now

  1. Laurel.hill says:

    Ok, you depressed me, because when I think about how much of my life I have spent in school, Im not quite as happy as you are. Then again, I don’t care much for school at all……ok the social part is a ton of fun (at times).

    Enjoy the last few days.

  2. danak says:

    Thanks, Laurel! I’m sorry the post saddened you. 😦 You have so many special and unique gifts that are beyond what an academic classroom can manage well (at least in our current culture)! I’m amazed at your creativity and artistic skills. You are a very special woman, just the way you are. And I am blessed by our friendship even more by our different (yet complementary) interests and personalities.

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