by Lora Foremen-Krall ~
Middle-age has a way of sneaking up on you.
All of the sudden you realize your hair is a bit grayer, your waistline a bit bigger, and the career you thought you wanted is not going in the direction you had hoped. Some try to recapture their youth with new cars, clothes and makeovers. Others go on a trip hoping to find inspiration and adventure, while others simply accept an unfulfilling career. None of those was an option for me!
Gray hair signified the wisdom life has given me. My waistline: a sedentary job. And as for my career — you’re never too old to try something new!
I wanted to do some form of public service, but stay close to home. I found an opportunity with Minnesota Reading Corps to serve children who needed support to succeed in school.
Having been in the health care field for 34 years and done everything I had hoped, I wanted to experience a path I had not yet traveled. Financially, my family was in a place that I could take a year off of my job and look for a new direction.
The training I received through Reading Corps integrated well with my skills. I met many wonderful people who were more than gracious with help and advice. The corps of tutors came from all walks of life and a wide variety of educations and experiences. The program requires all participants to be 18 years of age or older, hold a high school degree or GED, and be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. Most importantly, Reading Corp wants to make sure that the year of service fits in with our professional and personal lives.
I was nervous! I really wanted to be successful in helping the children. However, this nervous feeling turned into the real delight of my experience.
Each time I met with my K-3 students at their elementary school, I heard about their days, both the ups and the downs. Reading together became a way for us both to learn about each other and find common ground. At some point, we all have had a “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” just like Alexander did in the book of the same name.
I shared the fun I found in stories and poems, and they found that reading didn’t have to be work. They reminded me how the simplest things like stickers, tongue twisters and stylish high fives can make your day.
To see my students reach a goal, celebrate their success and then reward them for a job well done, was a real honor.
Through my year of service I found a new path. The real gift, however, for me came in the grocery store. I heard my name from the end of the isle. Turning, I saw the familiar toothless grin as one of my students dragged a family member toward me. “Grandma, this is Mrs. Krall. She is my reading teacher.” My student was proud of me and I shared with her grandmother how proud I was of her.
I have received a few honors in my life but that was one of the best. Yes, I just may have a new career.
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