I’ve been teaching preschool since 1994, I think. My first job was only for four months. I told them when they hired me that I would only be there for four months because I had a gig at the Fresno Art Museum as Storyteller in Residence in February. That seemed to be OK with them.
After the residency I went looking for another preschool job because I enjoyed the children. After annoying the director for several weeks, I was hired at Children’s Creative World and would be working with Karen Mattox in Pre-K.
Sometimes the world just falls into place. Karen was delighted with me because I showed up on time and did what I was supposed to do. In the 8 months the school had been open she had four different co-teachers, who came and went.
We clicked immediately. After a while we were almost like an old married couple. She could read my mind, I could read hers.
She was a lot of fun to work with. At Halloween we dressed up together. One year she was Cinderella and I was the Fairy Godmother. Another time I was a ghost and she was the doctor who killed me. And then we were once Bayou Barbie and the Gator Granny. This was during my Cajun phase.
A parent once asked Karen which of us was the lead teacher. She replied “We don’t have a lead teacher in this class. We are co-teachers. We work together.”
She always amazed me because she would spread all of her projects on the project table and it would be a total mess. But when it came time to leave, it was magically clean and tidy.
We had so much fun together. We did plays and reviews with the kids. We did art shows. We did performances for the parents. A good time was had by all.
Karen started looking for another job. I didn’t want to lose her, but I was planning to leave in a few months anyway. She applied to the Saint Agnes Child Development Center and gave me as a reference. They called me and asked what she was like to work with, what she was like with the parents, what was she like with the children, how did she get along with the other staff and why was she leaving her current position.
I said, “Probably for the same reason I’ll be leaving in a few months: low pay, no benefits.”
There was a pause on the line.
“Oh, do you have another position lined up?”
I said, “Well, I was planning to start a family home daycare, but what have you got to offer?”
They said, “We need a pre-k teacher. Can you come in tomorrow for an interview?”
I said, “Yes.”
I was hired.
And so was Karen!
We worked together in the same program for several more years, then they split us up. And then Karen retired.
We don’t get to see each other as much as we would like, but occasionally we meet for lunch at Eddie’s Bakery and talk for hours. She is not just a former co worker, but a true friend and a soul mate.