My senior year, I applied and was accepted to Western Oregon State College, which at one time had been the Oregon College of Education. I had heard fantastic things about their education department and looked forward to becoming a teacher after I earned my degree. I also loved and appreciated the drama department, and although WOSC was a small school, I valued the more one-on-one time attention I received in the smaller classrooms. I feel if I had gone to a larger school, I would have struggled and eventually failed.
I became heavily involved in the drama department and enjoyed working both onstage, as well as, off stage. I also took just about every drama course that was available and worked towards a double major in Language Arts and Theater Arts with a minor in Communications. My English classes were more hit and miss, not that I did poorly in the classes, it just wasn’t my passion, but in order to get the degree I wanted, I had to have the double major. (Side note: At the time you could not get an endorsement in Theater without the English endorsement, too).
When I received my approval, I was flabbergasted when I discovered I would not be working with a drama teacher nor speech teacher, but two language arts teachers. I approached Mr. Mason, the person in charge of placing teachers, and asked him, “Why?” He told me (and I am paraphrasing), “Drama teachers do not like to give up their drama classes to student teachers since drama, was a course often the first cut by school districts, because of the lack of funding and you would be better off teaching Language Arts because you will have no luck finding a teaching job in drama.” Again, I was flabbergasted. Who was he to tell me what I would and would not be teaching? I then approached my college drama professor, Dr. Davis, and he told me, “Anne, I have no doubt in my mind you are going to make a fantastic drama teacher so use this student teaching experience to become a stronger English teacher.” Reluctantly, I agreed and a few days later, I started my student teaching. The first couple of weeks, I shadowed my cooperating teachers, whom neither impressed me nor inspired me. Which I have to add, is sad, because I had several fantastic Language Arts teachers in both high school and college who really inspired me and a few strongly encouraged me to become a writer. What also made me mad, was a college friend was doing her student teaching in the same school district (different school), but she was teaching a class in drama and she had a minor in Theater. In addition, when asked if I could go to other districts closer to Portland, I was told no, although I had no less than five drama teacher friends who said they would love for me to student teach for them. Maddening!
Then when it became time for me to teach, I was offered two freshman Language Arts classes and two sophomore Language Arts classes. No junior, no senior, no creative writing, no journalism, no speech. . . nothing. The whole experience was a disaster. I wasn’t working with students who wanted to be there, I was working with students who had to be there and both them and I struggled. I received no help or suggestions from my cooperating teachers, but I plotted forward doing the best I could with what I had in front of me, until one day, my supervising teacher (a English professor from the college, whom I had never met) came to observe me. After the class was over, he pulled me aside in an empty classroom and informed me the cooperating teachers did not think I was doing well and suggested I not finish the term. I felt as empty as that room and numb all over. This was what I wanted all my life. Even my patricidal blessing read, “You will be a teacher.” I was given the option to quit, write the experience down as another practicum, and graduate with a degree in Secondary Education without certification. The most frustrating part of this whole experience was that if I had stayed another quarter and repeated student teaching I would not have earned an endorsement in Theater, as the College of Education was dropping the Theater endorsement the end of my senior year. That evening, I sent the whole night lying in my fiance's arms crying my eyes out.
I never became a teacher.
Hence, when I saw what the Church was doing to my oldest son's dream to become a missionary, all those buried emotions and feelings boiled to the surface. I just knew something was wrong about this mini-mission, but Michael was all right with it and wanted to prove he was a missionary. Unfortunately, it’s been one disaster after another—lack of communication, misinformation, and missing funds. Then the other day, our bishop approached me and told me he was going to visit Michael. In the back of my mind, I had a sixth sense, this was like my student teaching experience all over again.
However, a couple days later, the bishop told me, “Michael, looks like a missionary, talks like a missionary, walks like a missionary—” Then my friend Gwen, who was standing next to me, piped in, “That’s because he is a missionary.” I was a proud momma. But then. . . on Monday, I received my weekly email from my son and he wrote, “I don’t know if you guys know this, but the mission president is concerned for me and doesn’t think I’m ready for a two year mission.” I was livid! First, because I believe the Church has not helped him at all and has set him up for failure from the get go. I think Michael would have been better off to start at the MTC and receive the tools needed for a successful mission, rather then this on-the-job training that personally I find to be a joke. I will also admit I am very unhappy with the bishop. I think he should have come forward with the real reason he was visiting Michael. (Which we now know was to discuss the president’s concerns). He emailed my mother (who I would appreciate if she would stay out of my business) and told her, he didn’t want us to worry. I’m mad because I feel I can't trust him, even though he assures us he’s going to bat for Michael. Sure, I would have been mad that he had to go talk to Michael, but it would have eventually simmered over, but keeping us in the dark, I am sorry, is indefensible.