Decision Point: Can This French Program Be Saved?

After a beautiful Northwest summer, my social-studies teaching husband returned from his first day back to work with news: the French teacher at his high school had suddenly retired, just days before students were set to arrive. I was wide-eyed at this revelation. I had wondered if I would ever teach French at our local school, and I've kept my teaching license valid, but homeschooling our children has been my top priority over the past few years--particularly so that I can raise them in French. We wondered what the school administrators would choose to do.

  A la retraite  (photo by  Mbeo )

A la retraite (photo by Mbeo)

Forty-eight hours later, my husband told me his principal would like us to decide immediately if I would step into the French position. I was overwhelmed with the suddenness of the request, particularly since no one from the school had contacted me directly, but I agreed to meet with the principal the following day to find out the details. I was told the position would entail teaching four levels of French, six classes per day, full-time, starting in two work days, continuing through January if not longer.

  Photo by Nicolas Vigier

Photo by Nicolas Vigier

  Photo by Stef Niko

Photo by Stef Niko

As a teacher, this sudden request felt mind-boggling, and as a homeschooling mama, it felt even more overwhelming. How would I manage to enroll our children in school when Labor Day weekend and the first day of school were mere days away? How would I manage to buy their school supplies and the necessary uniforms and prepare them for our sudden family shift? I was told I needed to respond to the request that afternoon . . . so I said no. It simply seemed implausible. I truly wanted the high school students to be able to continue their French studies, but I couldn't accept such a request at the cost of my family's stability.

But one day later, on a Friday, I called back, left a message, and said yes. Despite my initial "no," I had continued to pray and reflect on the opportunity. You see, over the summer my husband and I had hired an au pair, a capable and mature 20-year-old French student, to live with us for a year and to serve as a language helper and childcare assistant. When we hired her, only God knew that I would be destined to birth our fourth child next spring, and that I would be asked to teach French full-time in the interim.  He had already provided a way for this family shift to occur. The job request was coming into focus as an opportunity--one that would set our family down a different educational path for a time, surely--but it would also allow me to share my passion and knowledge of French with new students at a time when my help was sorely needed.

After an unexpected delay at the district office and a long weekend wait, I was hired at the end of my students' first day of school, so ultimately they had one day without French class. I hope it was their only day this school year that lacked a little joie de vivre.

  Photo by André Charlotton

Photo by André Charlotton

To be continued: In my next post, I'll share about our family's new (temporary?) educational journey and the unique experience it has been to return to teaching French full-time after an eight-year break.

Have you ever had to make an abrupt decision that appeared to drastically impact your future (our your family's future)? Do you believe you made the decision with your head or your heart--or both?