By Guest Author, Tassa Avara
When escaping the muck isn’t in God’s timing, we often lean on others instead of continuing to seek and wait for God’s help. It was extremely lonely when no one could relate to my job.
It was a teaching job with a threatening, demeaning administration, and one in which teachers were told to do one thing but were ridiculed publicly and told “ I never said to do that!” when tasks were performed. Teachers were literally thrown under the bus in front of directors, faculty, parents, and students.
Parents and students sometimes expressed how sorry they were for the ridicule they witnessed. Coworkers were afraid to speak to one another due to threats like, “I have eyes everywhere.” In one particular meeting, I only had one page to turn in my binder to hand in a form. Before I could pull the form out, my boss impatiently shouted, “Don’t make me come across this table and take you to another level!” Everyone sat in fear with jaws dropped. I was ignored when I tried to hand it to her. I wasn’t the only one that had moments like that.
Each morning I said a prayer for strength in the parking lot, and I observed other teachers doing the same. After school each day I observed teachers letting out sighs of relief as they fought tears. We were alone even though we were so close.
Our expressions said all that needed to be spoken.
One thing that helps someone to rise out of the muck, is to rely on a good listener. That was hard to find. My spouse tried, but he felt helpless. I loved my students, and didn’t want to leave them.
I waited thirteen years to leave. I truly believe God opened the door and prepared the way. My teaching certificate needed renewing, but admin didn’t submit the necessary data to the state to renew it. Years of experience, a master’s degree, retirement, benefits, and college tuition were about to be thrown away.
However, my worst fear was that administration stated that the school’s teachers weren’t going anywhere. Remember, we were told that eyes were everywhere, even at job fairs. I was trapped. I believed that the only way out was to begin a new career.
Miraculously, a friend rushed to my car one Sunday and told me about an available teaching position. I couldn’t risk word getting back to my boss by requesting a recommendation.
Over the years I saw other teachers escorted out after going on interviews, asking for recommendations, or for giving respectful notices. Also, some weren’t allowed to retrieve their personal belongings. My husband said, “Go for it.” He was tired of my depression, tears, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, ocular migraines with loss of sight, and emergency room visits.
After arranging an interview and agreeing that my boss not be contacted unless guaranteed a position, I immediately began preparing for my exit. It was a frightening time, yet exciting. Doubt set in quickly.
Who would hire someone with an expiring teaching certificate, no scores to renew it, and no letter of recommendation? If this was meant to be, it was definitely in God’s hands.
I entered the interview scared to death. I was determined not to discuss the job environment I was in. I simply told the principal that I didn’t want to go there, because no one would believe me. Then the words and experiences poured out. She hired me. The sincerity of understanding and willingness to help me grow in my career was a blessing from God.
The rest went as I expected. Since I was not under contract, I gave my letter of resignation, a two week notice, along with the entire year’s lessons printed and on thumb drive.
These were not accepted kindly or gently. Ultimately, I was escorted and locked out of the building without my belongings. I could only take the new position at a first-year teacher pay and experience until my past employer signed and released certain required papers.
The fight began.
Previous teachers had gone through this and were very helpful. I began by contacting the Charter School Association, Board of Education, Board of Directors, the legal insurance for teachers that I carried for years, attorneys, state representatives…I kept record of all my contacts, times, dates, messages, and evidence. I even collected letters and evidence from past coworkers. Finally, four months later the papers were signed and released. Then my new employer was able to help me renew my certificate, years of experience, and my pay was finally straightened out.
The past kept tugging at me. Some coworkers left behind are still trying to renew certificates. They are trapped. My heart aches for them and the close relationships we should have had, but were afraid to attempt.
After bumping into some of them and discovering that they have lost their certifications, I prepared my contacts in case they needed them. Then I reached out to those sources and asked that they investigate and assist those teachers in renewing their certificates.
A family member warned me with discouraging advice, “You fought your battle, let them fight their own. Stay out of it.” I don’t feel that God wants us to abandon others that are stuck in muck. We are to reach out. We are to be good listeners and supporters. We are to be encouragers of faith, and share in their troubles. Often, we make the mistake of turning someone’s conversation into an opportunity to talk about ourselves.
Don’t ask, “How was your day?” if you aren’t ready to listen.
This muck became a blessing. God can do that with our burdens. I learned that little things don’t matter. Nothing is as bad as it was. When others complain about all that is going on in their classes or cramped schedules, I feel joy that I’m still teaching.
No, it’s never easy, because obstacles and trials are nonstop. I realize though that I could have lost it all, but God blessed me in His time. I don’t believe I‘d appreciate where I am now without being drug through the muck.
These experiences motivated Tassa Avara to write and illustrate Christian, children’s books. She loves observing God’s beautiful creations, so the characters and peaceful settings that she illustrated were a release when she was down. The stories were inspired by morals that Tassa wants children to learn. She doesn’t want children growing up to be like the leaders that she worked under for so long. It is important to Tassa to share that kindness, the golden rule, and following God’s commandments can carry them farther in life.
Tassa lives in West Monroe, Louisiana and attend Cheniere Baptist Church. Her husband and best friend of thirty years has been her backbone through it all. She has two loving sons, a precious daughter-in-law, and three grandsons. Using her passion for writing and art, she desire for her books to educate children on moral character and respect for themselves and others. Tassa is now at home at Boley Elementary, and loves the daily support from my principal and school district.