Driven: relentlessly compelled by the need to accomplish a goal; very hard-working and ambitious.
My father always said I was driven. That I "burned my candle at both ends." It was certainly true the year I was graduating college. I was focused on getting a teaching position in a Long Island public school. I printed resume after resume, on my ivory heavy stock paper and edited my cover letter for each school in which I applied. These were the days before online applying, when you still sent a cover letter and everything was snail mailed.
Back then, jobs were posted in the newspaper. I would circle all the boxes in the employment section that related to teaching positions. I made applying for jobs a job itself. And then the interviews started.
Looking back on it now, it's kind of a miracle I was hired in my school. The first round was an essay test, which I did well enough to be invited to the "group interview" round. Principals and other high level administrators sat at one end of a board room table and all the applicants sat way down from then, in a row. The group interview consisted of questions being asked and "jump in" whenever you have an answer. I was awful at this. Everyone jumped in before me, therefore taking all the possible answers. I was last almost every time. It's been close to 19 years now, so I don't remember the questions, but I remember thinking I blew it since I was unable to get a word in with all the other candidates for most of the interview.
Somehow, I was called to come in for an interview. These were the days before everyone carried smart phones with Google Maps ever at the ready to navigate. These were the days of big paper maps and trying to find which street to turn on. I remember the day of my interview, driving up and down Route 110 in Farmingdale, trying to find the turn to Main Street. One side of the road was Broadhollow Road and the other side was Main Street but I somehow missed that and was driving up and down the road, getting more and more anxious and panicked. I remember calling the school and talking to the school secretary and her giving me directions.
I eventually found the school, pretty close to being late for the interview. When I walked in, the principal and the interview committee met me in the hallway and said they were ready for my demonstration lesson. WHAT?! I said there must have been some misunderstanding- I was there for an interview. I had no idea what grade or subject they would want me to teach a lesson for and had nothing prepared. Talk about the worst possible impression- late and unprepared.
The principal at the time, Eve Dieringer, was always gracious and allowed me to be interviewed since I had come all the way there. I was asked to teach a lesson later that week to a 5th grade class of below level readers. I prepared a lesson on identifying character traits using the book The Lorax. The kids were wonderful but while I taught the lesson, it felt like some of the committee wasn't really watching me. I didn't think I would be offered the job.
Yet, somehow, someway, I was offered a teaching position at Saltzman East Memorial school. I was offered a leave replacement position ,teaching 6th grade. I turned down a job offer at St. Agnes school and a first grade spot at an elementary school in Smithtown, which I later learned was a tenure track position. I chose to teach in Farmingdale and 18 years later, it's been my home. Looking back on my interview story, it's kind of a miracle that I got the job!
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski