Thursday was my last day as the Interim Director of The SoL Center of San Antonio. That job was a lot of fun. I appreciate the people with whom I had the opportunity to collaborate the past few months: the staff and congregation at Univesity Presbyterian Church, the Board, active and potential instructors, local faith-leaders, etc. I'm thankful for the vision and mission of this organization, proud of what we accomplished, and excited about what is to come. While a new Director hasn't been chosen yet, I am confident that the right successor will be named, soon!
This gig was part time: about twenty hours a week. I haven't worked a forty-hour-a-week job since living in Oregon four years ago. As a doctoral student the last three years I have worked either part time or not at all. My wife has shouldered the burden of two people on one income for quite a while now. I am eternally grateful for her sacrifice. If I would have been wiser I would have found other ways to make sure that things weren't so lopsided. It will be a relief to move to two incomes again.
That makes this my final "weekend" before weekends really become something that matter! I will cherish Saturdays and Sundays in a new way. While I am not done with my dissertation yet, I hope to complete it and submit it in early 2017. We'll see how that goes with the new job.
To the new job: I am elated to begin my training on Monday as the new Religious Studies Teacher at TMI-The Episcopal School of Texas. I will be teaching Old Testament/Jewish Bible and New Testament/Christian Bible to mostly sophomores, juniors, and seniors. In the spring I will teach New Testament/Christian Bible and comparative religion. I begin this work with both anticipation and trepidation. I am confident that I can be a very good secondary educator. I am nervous because I know it is a very different world from even college undergraduates. Indeed, for me, this is a brave new world! I hope it is closer to utopia and dystopia, but if life experience is any indication, it will be just the real world: joy and sorrow, success and failure, highs and lows, etc.
During the interview process one of the teachers I met told me something that has stuck in my head. He teaches science, but he said when people ask him "what do you teach?" his reply is "teenagers". He said he uses science as the means, but he doesn't teach science, he teaches teenagers. While I proudly declare I am a teacher of "religious studies" I have taken this statement to heart. For all intents and purposes, I am teaching young adults who in a few years will enter recognized adulthood with all its opportunities and responsibilities. My job is to work with other teachers, mentors, and their parents to help them prepare for this "brave new world" and my contribution happens to come through teaching religion. So, every day I will get up and go to work aiming to prepare young adults for the world ahead of them. Religion is my toolbox. Empowering young adults is my project. It doesn't get more exciting than that.
A final word: some have asked me if this is a "stepping stone" to a college job (or seminary) someday. The answer is, "no." That doesn't mean I wouldn't take one of those jobs someday. It does mean that if in thirty years I have taught only high school, and I retire from the job I begin on Monday, it would not have been "settling". This job means the world to me. I come into it believing that for me this is the most important work in the world. This is what I am meant to do for however long. I am committed to this task.