Getting Ready for Service

My Story’s Background: Linda Grimmer 2021/22

I came to AmeriCorps this year out of a space I think many Americans may have been in recently.  I was re-evaluating things due to the widespread pandemic.  Did I still want to be in a classroom? Did I want to keep teaching?  What was teaching even going to look like now?  Would being closer to home be better in case things suddenly changed again?  Would it be better to be in an environment where more support was provided?

To understand my thought process and the answers I would come to, we first have to go back.  I could say my story started 12 years ago when fresh out of school I took what was originally supposed to be a temporary job as a Substitute Teacher, but then found Teaching to be my purpose.  Or I can say it started when I was a young child and saw the example my Mom set of service through education.  Or even further back we could look at my family record of service of over 200 years of stepping up when called on. Really though my journey to AmeriCorps and Project Change specifically started about a year and a half ago in March of 2020 with the onset of the Pandemic.  

In March 2020 I was laid off from the Substituting job I had held for over a decade without much warning as schools closed down to flatten the curve. And like many at the time, I thought this was just going to be temporary.  Surely it would all sort itself out by the end of the school year or at the latest by the start of the next. Of course, this was not the case.  And in the next year, I would face some other major changes that all got me thinking of the path I wanted to take.

I moved from a very rural area kind of at the edge of the state to the much more centrally located and metropolitan by comparison Glen Burnie, Maryland.  I spent time participating in the Gig Economy as a personal shopper delivering groceries.  My parents relocated to South Carolina, an 8-hour drive away. I got married to my wonderful Husband while the officiant and my closest family had to join us via Skype. I got dreadfully sick with COVID 19 and spent 6 months rehabbing my lungs.  (And I am still dealing with some of the long-haul COVID symptoms) In short, the last year and a half was rather eventful.

I came out of that Pandemic Whirl of Time knowing I needed and wanted to make some changes careerwise.  Teaching was still my calling but I needed to set some ground rules on what my next Teaching Job would look like.  First and foremost I wanted to be a lot closer to my new home.  Almost as importantly, I wanted to feel like the program I was working in was supporting my desire to grow as a teacher and would be a partner in working through the new landscape of Teaching Post-COVID.  And I desperately wanted to be of service to my community and the students I would be working with.

This is when I found AmeriCorps Project Change through a job posting on Indeed.  Reading the ad on Indeed and knowing a little of the history of AmericCorps’s founding in the 1990s, this seemed like the right fit.  From the moment I had my first interview for the position, I was excited and enthusiastic to go back to a classroom working through Project Change and AmeriCorps. My Mom and Husband, ever my cheerleaders, encouraged me to take the position when it was offered.  And I spent a good part of July revered up and ready to get started. 

AmeriCorps was going to be the beginning of my next chapter.