Years ago I thought my dream job was covering the WNBA for a daily newspaper or Sports Illustrated.
I never pursued that, though, because by the time I was in a position to go after a job at a daily the industry shifted dramatically and there was no job security there. I also discovered I really liked community journalism and that such a narrow beat would bore me. Magazine writing also did not appeal to me, either, after working for newspapers. Then again, that dream job was part of my thought process as a 20-year-old student at the University of Washington.
Life changes. Plans change.
And it turns out my dream job, my calling, is teaching. My last day with the Covington-Maple Valley-Black Diamond Reporter is Jan. 24. Starting Jan. 28 I will be student teaching at Kentlake High as part of the final phase of the master’s of arts in teaching program I am in at Seattle Pacific University. Because of the length of the internship, it seemed best to make a fresh start in education while allowing the newspaper to find the right person for the position I am vacating.
As a teenager I considered teaching but I really wanted to get paid to write. I thought journalism was the best career path.
When I was in high school, I worked with children as a volunteer with the YMCA and then as a counselor at Camp Orkila. I always loved it but I thought it was due to the fact the summer camp was a place I felt at home and not because I thought I had something to offer kids.
A conversation with Joe Potts, the principal at Kentlake, in November 2010 led me to consider education again. I was considering going back to school at that time because I knew I needed to determine what the next phase of my professional life would look like. It took me seven months to realize that my favorite part of journalism has always been the articles I did with kids, whether they were club presidents, exceptional scholars, elite athletes or driven to raise money to help a cause close to their hearts.
During the years I have been with the Reporter newspapers — nearly 11, in fact, including the two and a half years with the Kent, Renton and Auburn papers — I have met so many amazing people. I have written about a myriad of amazing causes. I covered hundreds of student-athletes when they won and when they experienced heartbreak. I covered elections and controversies, crime and punishment, wrote about businesses, your neighbors, your friends and your children. I took their pictures. I posted to the web and social media. There were days I wanted to cry and others when I loved it so much I smiled wide.
Yes, I have met famous people, professional athletes and done things other people don’t get to do because I had a press pass. But, I was always happiest on the sidelines of a football field, a basketball court or soccer pitch, or outside the dugout of a softball or baseball field. And, truly, the softball season of 2011 had a tremendous impact on the decision to go into teaching. The girls who played at Kentlake and Tahoma that year helped me see that the way I covered high school sports, especially in recent years, is because I love working with kids and that I could have an impact on the lives of many more children on a daily basis if I went into teaching. They helped me see what I am meant to do.
There are many elements of this job I will miss. I live in an amazing community in Maple Valley and cover two other incredible cities in Covington and Black Diamond. The hearts of the people in these communities who give so much to others — you know who they are because they have been in the pages of this newspaper — are amazing. I am blessed to know all these amazing folks and to call them my neighbors.
In truth, though, there are far more things I will not miss which is a sign that this is the right time to leave. And, I want our readers to know, any mistakes I made were due to the condition of being human rather than ever out of malice.
We are working on finding the right person to replace me. Some readers will surely rejoice while others have said they will miss me. I believe, though, that I am leaving this newspaper in capable hands with Katherine Smith.
Things will change, I’m sure, but I plan to get out of the way so that can happen. I am proud of what I have accomplished here at a publication I helped start, cultivate and nurture since September 2005. It’s only fair, however, for me to move on and focus on the next phase of my career, my life, as well as to allow the next person to forge his or her own way. Luckily, whoever gets the job walks into a great environment with plenty of opportunity and great people to work with so I am sure the transition will be smooth.
In the meantime, my dream job is to teach children about reading, writing and history — that is, my endorsement areas are English, social studies and history — and while I do not know now where I will land after student teaching is over, I hope I won’t be too far. I have appreciated and enjoyed this experience more than words can express. Thank you for being a part of it.