First, let me give you just one little glimpse of why I love it here. I just walked up the stairs from my classroom and outside, around on a winding path that leads to the door to the teachers’ lounge. (It’s time for my morning tea.) The gym, where kids are having PE right now, is across the courtyard from where my classroom is. There is a giant magnolia tree in the courtyard and a nice grassy patch, and a sweet little bronze sculpture of a child reading on a bench under the tree. Flowing loudly from the general direction of the gym are strains of Lenny Kravitz’s “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over.” The PE faculty have some great taste in music. Yesterday it was James Brown’s “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.” It’s a good place to be. So back to how I got my job.
I was working as a freelance graphic designer/artist/portrait painter/whatever I could get my hands on, and had been doing so for about two years. I believe that God gives us, a lot of times, what we don’t want, so that it’s really obvious when we find what we do want. So I was made really certain of the fact that I cannot be my own boss. I’m not motivated enough, or even if I am, I just can’t do the manager’s job as well as the artist’s job. It’s just too much to ask of a creative soul to tell her that she has to produce the work but then also get out there and hock it. It’s exhausting. I know that people do it, and I think those people are freaks of nature who consume way too much caffeine and probably don’t sleep as well as I do at night. That’s entirely unfair and insensitive of me, but I think you understand where I’m coming from.
SO. I had just returned from working all summer in the kitchen at Kanakuk Camp, the one out in Durango, Colorado. Good times. That’s actually when I was working on the Behold The Lamb of God artwork in my free time when I wasn’t cracking 400 eggs or hovering over the tilt skillet making scads of pancakes. (More on that later.)
I was back home in sweltering Nashville, sitting on my front porch in the sun with no work in sight and no cash in the bank. I told God, in earnest, that I was ready for something else. I told him that I would pick up and run with whatever he handed me. It’s one of the few times in my life where I actually thought it advisable to strike a deal with the Big Guy, to stick my big toe in his swirling sea of possibility. Well….the NEXT DAY, a friend called me and, long story, said they were looking for an art teacher at Ensworth. I laughed at him. Then I fell silent. Oh gosh. This is what God’s going to hand to me. I called and made an appointment, went in and handed over my resume (which did NOT list “education degree” but rather “graphic design degree”). I went in the next day for an interview. Rose, the lovely lady who is the chair of our department and has taught at Ensworth for as long as I’ve been alive, said later that the minute she met me, she knew I was the one. Apparently they had had about seventeen applicants and nine interviews, and she had dismissed each one, thinking they were going to have to just not hire anyone. Then, “in walked Evie” (I’m just a little proud of that part of the story).
Have I mentioned that I had never set foot in a classroom in this capacity and was hired six days before school started? Yep. Time to PANIC. I read whatever I could get my hands on, went in and did a total overhaul on the room (used to be a science lab, so there’s a wonderful lot of storage space and there’s even a greenhouse attached to the room — I love it). I painted my desk bright blue and hung paper lanterns. I installed curtains with huge orange poppies on them. I braced myself. I have never been more filled with terror, more dizzied by fear of tiny children, than I was when that first class walked in. Let’s just say that, since then, I’ve created my own way of doing things in the classroom, and it works for me. It helps that I’m a really good actress, and that I like to make my kids laugh. Comfort and ease, to me, are two of the most important “auras” to create for the children in a creative environment.
So here I sit, six years later, planning lessons on Chinese Dragons and the psychedelic art of Peter Max and adhering paint stir sticks to puppets for the second graders’ upcoming show. Little blessings, they’re made of paper and glue.