So I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I knew that there were two things to get done, one, find a route to becoming a licensed teacher, my Mechanical Engineering degree was not going to do it. And two, plan our family's finances so we could survive the first few years of teaching which were going to be extremely lean pay. (This comes back to the question of who do we, John Q. Public, really want to teach, the low pay keeps great people away - period.)
I knew that my Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering would not allow me to teach, but I hoped to be just a few courses short - like 36 credits short. But the first couple of places I check wanted me to finish a Bachelors in Education, well over 75 credits plus a math major degree (another 24). Darn hard to work and go to school for.... -- well forever.
Then I found St. Mary's second career education program in Minneapolis, Minnesota, it gave credit for my BSME and was a masters program - I simply had to take 36 credits and complete my math minor (5 courses). It gave some credit for my real life experiences as a manager and had the simple goal to put good people, who would do the work, into the classroom. The best part is it had night and weekend courses, so I could work and do school.
But to do this the family and I had to live in the Twin Cities. So I begin to unwind my emotional attachment to the company I was working for, because while I could not see anyway out of their impending bankruptcy, my heart pushed me to hang on. (The question about I would have ever become a teacher is fair at this point, I think yes - but my kids would not have been toddlers.) But I started searching for employment in the Minneapolis area with the thought that it had to be perfect, it had to be win for the employer and myself, that was spring of 2003.
As things became worst at my job, my desire to teach increased and in the summer of 2003 I found a company searching for job shop manager where my engineering background had value. The plan was to take about 7 years for me to complete the course work and save upto 40% of our salary, we (my wife and I) figured that would make a nest egg so we would be okay the first 5 years of teaching.
My wife and I then downsized everything. Any cost was cut, every dollar we saved. We knew we would need for her to be back to work (at this point my 3 children were 5,3, and 2 years old). We knew we had to not "keep up with the Jones," we bought a cheap house, removed car payments, made vacations no thrills (little kids don't need thrills anyway), etc. We just made ourselves live on 40% of my salary, period.
And I signed up for one night course - a Foundations of Education course, the first course of what I thought would be long process. I attended the first night and was so excited about the passion of the instructors that I immediately marched down and signed up for enough classes to cut my college time from about 7 years to about 3 years.
So instead of two days per week, I went to four -- that is where we will pick up in the next post, working and taking 9 credits per semester.