"It's never too late to be...
who you might have been." That quote is by George Eliot, and I found it engraved into a brass bookmark while in college for the first time in my mid 30s - a single mom of three young teens. I still have that bookmark.
I had wanted to be a teacher since my own mid-teens, but was pursuing a path of psychology instead due to hard knocks in life. I wanted to rescue people who were where I had unhappily been. But it was not to be. The coursework ate my lunch...and I went back to my dream of becoming a teacher. That too ended when I found myself out of funding and unable to support us for the duration of the student teaching semesters.
I still had my part-time students - I was a learning assistant, tutor, proctor and scribe for the office for students with disabilities. I LOVED my students - each was a blessing and a puzzle for me to get through to and raise up academically. It was easily the best job I'd ever had.
But that too came to an unfortunate end...when the president of the college put out an edict that only people with master's degrees could be tutors. When the realization sunk in that I'd never make it, I cried for days, became depressed, and I gave up on my dream and began listening to those of others. That started the trip down numerous rabbit holes.
I've been unable to attend school since 2003 due to being maxed out on loan funding and being outside of the limit on qualifications for Pell grant. I'd had a number of relos that resulted in lost hours and new roads because the paths just kept dissappearing. I have 150+ credit hours, numerous academic awards and recognitions, and only an AA in Communications to show for it.
Yesterday, I was moved to look again at the current funding available for teachers in my new home - originally from Texas, I was familiar with alternative certification - but as a new resident of Tennessee, I'd not found such programs in the almost 2 years I've been here. Still don't see any...BUT, I DID find something!
Apparently, the current academic year is the inception of the TEACH Grant - a grant for people wanting to pursue teaching in underrepresented fields and who are willing to work for four years within their first eight in low-income schools.
I have begun moving heaven and earth to get there by August. My local university does offer the grant, and the school districts around me have numerous low-income schools. The major I'll be pursuing: pre-education concentration on special education.
Oh, and because my husband and I made less than $30K last year, I'll also qualify for Pell once again. I won't be able to take out loans, as I'm maxed out - but I will do as much work study as is allowed, which does not count against you on the FAFSA. I'll also have to petition for the aid once it is processed due to my high number of credit hours.
After I graduate and have done the four years to pay back the grant, I'll be looking into Teach for America - a loan forgiveness program I hope to tap into to relieve part of the $50K I am in debt on Stafford loans.
It's looking doable - and for this frugal gal, I couldn't have gotten a better birthday present - I'll be 43 on Thursday, and I have new hope.