A New Job…A New Person

Sometimes we follow a thread that beckons even though it seems as if the timing is not quite right; the spirit is still burdened, not quite ready to tackle something new.

Just over a year ago, I had talked myself into feeling ready to take a volunteers’ workshop and, as a result of that choice, made a delightful connection with a man named Aaron, now my good friend. Little did I know then that, 8 months down the road, Aaron would call and ask me this innocuous question, “Didn’t you say you were going to look for a part-time job? Want me to talk to my boss?” I remember shrugging to myself at the time and then saying, “Why not.”  So Aaron emailed his boss, Brent Stubbs, the Coordinator of Adult Education at Lake Technical Center.  Within 2 weeks, I had been fingerprinted, drug tested, and given a job that I had never before considered. Throughout the two-week surreal whirlwind of jumping through new employment hoops, I dazedly wondered, “What have you jumped into this time, Dody?”

Dody Cox, GED Instructor at Lake Technical Center, and her class at Cagan Crossing Community Library

My new part-time, 9 hour per week, 3 mornings a week job is to act as coach/teacher to a multi-cultural group of adult students who live at the far edge of Lake County, 45 minutes from my house. How in the world could I help so many when their skills for reading, language and math were at such varied levels? The task seemed daunting to me. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking that I was ‘nuts,’ that is, until the first morning when I walked into the community room of a library that was to serve as our classroom.  It was just me and 21 fascinating, expectant faces. Before even all of our introductions to each other were over, a powerfully warm feeling had begun to fill me up from the inside out. You are home, I thought. It no longer mattered that I felt like a fish out of water. I no longer even cared that I had to always haul all materials and workbooks out of a closet each time.

I was home.

My students have to juggle families, transportation and jobs in order to attend the class.  It takes a ton of commitment. For those in which English is their second language, there is even more challenge. Yet, here they are, eager to better their lives. They were given the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) as part of their registration.  In order to register for specific vocational training classes, adults must have a high school diploma, or have passing scores in Language, Reading and Math on a the TABE.

Celebrating Succcess

It has been 3 months since that initial class. Many of my students just completed a post-TABE test in at least 1 subject area. When the results came in, my boss told me, “It is astounding, this is a 42% increase in the skill levels of your students! Veteran GED teachers may not have those results!” He knows our secret ingredient for this success. What is it? Simple: we are a team. We nourish each other.

For many, writing an essay is one of the toughest skills to grasp in order to pass the GED test; there are specific guidelines that a student must follow. To prepare, I’ve given several students practice topics. One of my very avid students agreed to share her first ever written essay with us.

In her words:

“My name is Hewaideh Gharib. I was born in Rochester, N.Y., but raised overseas in Jerusalem, Israel. I now live in Florida with my husband and four beautiful children. Even though I have a full agenda every day, I was able to find a way to manage my time with everything I do.”


Is it important for you to make time for yourself?

Life can be very challenging. Sometimes it is too challenging for some people; it can make their lives very hectic. There are people who have families to take care of, jobs to support their families, school to attend, and errands to run. Some people have to do all of these at once and, thus, put lots of stress on themselves. Even though a person has all of these responsibilities, it is very important that they find a way to make time for their self.

As a mother of four, taking care of my family and their needs always comes first. Never have I thought about myself and my needs. Most days are filled with lots of craziness. Thinking of everything I do from soccer practice to helping kids with homework, to cooking and cleaning, running errands and going to work, it gets to the point where I feel as if I can’t catch up with my own legs. By the end of the day, I am exhausted.

When I realized it, I asked myself a question, “If I don’t take care of myself, how will I be able to take care of my family?” I started taking care of myself by making a weekly planner. Now, although I have busy days, everything I do is at its own time. Most importantly, I was able to fit in one hour a day for “me time.” Organizing my time helped me get through my day with ease.

Life can be very stressful sometimes. This can affect your body, thoughts, and feelings. Start by taking steps: take time to breathe, go for a walk, relax your body, and tell your mind that everything will be okay. Think of your health because stress can cause physical and mental problems.

It is very important in each and everyone’s lives to make time for themselves. Begin with organizing your time, making a schedule ahead of time every week. Think of your health and happiness because we all need quality time for ourselves. Maintaining our strength is important in order for us to care for our loved ones. So remember, most importantly, to schedule ‘alone time’ for yourself.

Dody Cox and Hewaideh Gharib

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