Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sisterly Guilt

Today I took my little brother J to truck driving school. I'm trying to be supportive. He's had a rough time financially, which has led to me having a rough time financially.

Let's just say that the lack of a functioning vehicle has led to a lack of work. No, public transportation isn't an option. It doesn't exist in rural Appalachia. It's drive yourself or walk 35 miles one way to work.

Part of me is incredibly disappointed. This isn't a post aimed at disparaging truck drivers. My own late father was a truck driver. It is an important, vital job.  I feel it is just a waste of his potential.

Five years ago he started college at my alma matre as an engineering major. He's bright; incredibly gifted, even.  He switched colleges to a private( incredibly expensive, not worth the $), Christian college to major in music ed. Did that for a few years, then switched back to my university for engineering. After five years of college, tens of thousands in student loan debt and no degree in sight, he decided to not finish. It's not that he's not capable, he's just..........unfocused, lost, at a crossroad in his life.

The only thing my mom asked of me before she died in 2009 was to make sure J finished college. He was only 21 when my mom died, leaving both of us parentless in our 20s. I feel like I failed her and him. I realize he is an adult and makes his own choices, but I feel responsible that he didn't turn out to be an engineer or get his college degree in a timely manner.

I bought him a ticket on the Greyhound headed to CDL training school in Indiana and gave him a $100 bucks to help with food costs. I try to be a good big sister. I feel guilty that I didn't take him to Indiana myself, but I can't make an 8-hour round trip on a Sunday.  He just looked so sad as he boarded the bus.

Sigh.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2013 Resolutions

Every year I set some New Year's Resolutions for myself. Usually my resolutions involve losing weight. Well, I weigh slightly less this year than last, so I guess that's something.

I've been running on financial autopilot for awhile and I've discovered I'm having some trouble making ends meet. I've racked up a little credit card debt again. It seems as if I have to decide to pay the electric bill or buy groceries. I put groceries on the credit card.

When I lost my 4th grade special ed job two years ago, I made a lot more money than I do now. I am grateful to have a job, no doubt, but the several thousand dollar salary cut has had its impact. Maybe I just didn't notice it as much last year as this year. Oh the irony in that I get beat up every day, but make almost $10,000 less than every other teacher with my education and experience in my school.

I watch my money like a hawk. I just don't think I can cut any expenses. Utilities have skyrocketed. My water bill has tripled. Yes, I've checked for leaks. Insurance has increased, yet my salary decreased by a whole lot. I shop for most of my groceries at the off-brand store. I don't have a mortgage. I don't have a car loan, yet I am struggling.

Even with the supplementals I receive for coaching the dance team and mentoring new teachers, I still don't equal my old salary. A second job is out of the question during the school year. I work from sun up to bed time as it is.

I can't remember on what financial blog I read it a few years ago, but to paraphrase: if you can't cut your expenses, increase your income.

So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to find alternate income streams. If I could just get another couple hundred dollars a month, I would feel more secure.

I'm sure you've heard of the teachers who sell their lesson plans online and made a million dollars. Teacherspayteachers.com is the primary place teachers do this. I have bought several items on TpT and have been happy with the quality and the price.

I started another blog Making Model Students. It will primarily be school-related. I have a niche in the market for behavior. I also started my own store on Teachers Pay Teachers. I have already sold one item. I have great plans for my store. I'm working on a lot of really cool behavior resources and lesson plans. To be competitive, I do need to invest in some decent graphic design software though. I don't have grandiose ideas that I will become a millionare, but an extra hundred dollars here or there can't hurt.

So increase income is my 2013 resolution. What is yours?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Unspeakable horrors in Connecticut

Unspeakable horror happened today in the small New England town of Newtown, Conn. I, along with the entire nation, am experiencing a range of emotions from shock, sadness and anger at this horrific, senseless tragedy.

In April 1999, I was a senior in high school when the Columbine massacre occurred. Even though I was a thousand miles from Littleton, Colo., I felt the unease, the uncertainty of not being safe at school. Until that point, I never felt unsafe at school. School always was a happy, good place for me.

Most of my evening has been spent in tears. I deeply feel the loss of those 20 young students and the six staff members. My elementary school is just like theirs. It could've been my class, my principal, my staff. It could've been me.

President Obama broke my heart when he had to take a few seconds to compose himself during his address.

Each day, parents entrust me to protect their child. I take my duty as in loco parentis, in place of the parents, seriously. I am fiercely mama-bear style protective of my nine precious little boys. I have to keep them safe from bullies, from each other, often from abusive parents, often from themselves.

I don't know what I would do if I couldn't protect my boys. No parent, no teacher, no school, no community should ever have to deal with what Sandy Hook Elementary is dealing with.

My deepest condolences and prayers are with the Sandy Hook Elementary students staff and the community of Newtown, Conn.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Head hung in personal finance shame

I made the rookiest of the rookie personal finance mistakes. You are not even going to believe what I did. Wait for it.

I overdrew my checking account.

I can hear the audible gasps now. How on earth did I do that, you wonder?

It's called. Not. Paying. Attention. Teachers can attest the weeks leading up to the beginning of a new school year are busy. I just kept spending ( I love grading pens) and not entering my receipts into Quicken. I didn't check my online balance. When I finally got around to entering my receipts, and my bank balance was dwindling dangerously low, I started to panic. Also, I can't do math in my head. I don't think I've ever overdrawn my account in the 13 years I've had an account. My bank slapped me with a $25 insufficient funds fee. Humiliation for an experienced personal finance person.

I used to have a nice buffer of several hundred dollars in my account. However we had some issues getting my little brother financial aid at college, so he moved home to try and find a job. It took four months to find a crappy, part-time job at Wal-Mart 30 miles away. I helped him out with his bills for awhile, so goodbye buffer. And my electric bill tripled. Hello 45 90 degree days this summer in Ohio.

So I hang my head in personal finance shame and vow to keep a better eye on things. Some times auto pilot is not a good situation.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Survived the First Day of School

I survived the first day of school. Barely.

I have a shared special education unit. The incidence of students with emotional disturbances is pretty low, so there are only a few in my whole county. Therefore, my class serves several school districts. There were a lot of changes in the emotionally disturbed program, so each school district was supposed to notify their own students as to the changes.

The school district I'm housed in has their stuff together. The school district to the north, however failed to communicate the changes to their students. One of my new little guys showed up at his old school. His family didn't know his teacher was teaching the autism unit at another school and my class was now all the elementary ED units. We no longer have a full-time school nurse, due to the exorbitant number of middle school diabetics, so I was trying to deal with my new guy's meds. I am not a big proponent of medicating children, but most of my students would not be able to function without the aid of psychotropic meds. Meds keep them out of residential and psychiatric facilities.

So at the same time I was dealing with that, I had a parent and child show up that I didn't know was coming. Apparently, this child also registered with the district up north, who failed to let me know I had another student coming. I was caught off guard and was trying to read this kid's IEP, which his mother brought to see his LRE (least restrictive environment) placement. Apparently he went for a week at the school up north and did really well. For whatever reason, they changed his LRE to self-contained, but then his mom said they had another IEP meeting last week and now he is doing full-inclusion with only self-contained if there is a problem. I have no idea. No one has sent me an official IEP or anything. I just don't want us to get dinged by the state, but I'm going to go with what the mother says is on the other IEP until the Northern district sends it to me.

On top of this, I receive a frantic phone call from my supervisor. There was apparently a child who registered with my school who has a diagnosis of PDD-NOS, which is an autism spectrum disorder. Apparently there are behaviors and we do not have an older kid autism unit yet, so she thought he was with me. I had never heard of this child, neither had our school secretary, so my supervisor made me go search every classroom for this possible child. He wasn't there. I don't think he showed up.

So, thank God for my wonderful paraprofessionals. They took care of my boys while I searched classrooms for a possible missing student with autism, dealt with confused parents and tried to place a new student. I didn't even get to meet my class for the first hour.

My new boys seem great. I think we'll have a wonderful year. It was just all the headaches I had to contend with. My supervisor was so upset about all this, she brought me chocolate and apologized up and down for all the confusion.

I hope the second day is better.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

It's been a sh$# day.

In the words of Pink "It's been a sh&# day." My bestie found out her pregnancy was not viable. The baby did not have a heartbeat. The OBGYN said given the size of the baby, it died three weeks ago. This was her second miscarriage-ish situation. My bestie and her hubby are devastated. I'm devastated. She has to have a DNC done later this week. I'm taking this news a lot harder than I would've thought. I was hoping for a girl. Auntie S. wanted to put little ribbons in her hair, dress her in frilly, girly dresses to annoy her sporty mother and teach her ballet.

Sometimes I just don't understand life. I work with kids every day who are horrifically abused, physically, mentally and sexually by their parents. I deal with the single mom who keeps having children (by multiple no-good loser men) for the welfare check. I deal with teenage parents. I deal with people who have no business having kids, who treat their kids like crap and have no problem getting and/or staying pregnant.

But my bestie and several other friends, lose pregnancies and struggle with fertility. People who are GOOD parents or who would be amazing parents if given the chance. Yes, I, whose class is made up half of foster kids, recognize that adoption is a great thing. However, this post isn't about that. I'm sad. I'm angry.

Most importantly, I just want my bestie and her hubby to be okay.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Disappointed-Didn't get the job

I have friends in very high places with my school district. I found out that I am not even being considered for the middle school special ed job due to my experience. Yeah, re-read that sentence for clarity. Due to my experience in education, I am not being considered for a job.

Teaching is the only job where experience is not preferred due to cost.

It is much cheaper to higher a teacher fresh out of college than someone with experience. They would have to pay me at least $10,000 more than a brand-new teacher whose ink has yet to dry on his or her license because of my six years of teaching and I have my Master's.

I'm disappointed, but it wasn't unexpected. Six years into my teaching career, I am stuck where I am unless I go back to school for administration.