Friday, March 16, 2012

Without a Net

I knew that the day would come. For the past seven months I have been on sabbatical from teaching. I have taught in alternative high schools for a decade, servicing an 'at risk' student population. It is challenging work and I love it. Once you have earned the trust and respect of my students, they are fiercely loyal and very loving in their own way. Teaching is a secure profession for the most part, job stability, good pay, quality benefits, and a comfortable schedule.

I took my leave from all of these things to explore the possibilities of becoming a professional brewer. My teaching job is 135 miles away from my house, while the brewery is half a mile away. Brewing is a real opportunity for me to be more a part of the day to day routine of my family. It was my hope to be able to be brewing for the majority of my sabbatical, but it did not work out that way. Anyone who has been part of a brewery startup will tell you that delays in the process come with the territory. Then with my March first deadline looming, I had to officially make my decision. Was I going to roll the dice on a career in brewing, or return to the safety of my teaching job?

As I was writing the letter to my Superintendent informing him of my decision, an array of emotions washed over me. I am a bit of a safety cat by nature, so to see the words I was typing on the screen was admittedly a bit frightening.

"I regret to inform you that I will not be returning to teach for Kelloggsville Public Schools at the end of my sabbatical"

I felt that I was truly stepping off of a ledge.

I don't know about you, but for good or for bad, my career identifies so much about me. I remember when the first school I taught at abruptly closed it's doors leaving me jobless. I felt empty, nameless. 'Teacher' was and is a big part of what I am. In part, it was that title that forced my hand, demanding that I grow up. It is a profession that has given me some of my loftiest highs and some enveloping lows.

There is a small part of me that fears I have made the wrong decision for my family. Time will tell. I hope to be able to look back at all of this and be able to honestly say that I was fortunate enough to have two careers I loved.

Drink good beer with good people.