My Story:  What Brought Me to Liberal, KS

A lot of people ask me what brought me to Liberal, KS.   And a lot of people ask me what keeps me here in Liberal, KS. The answer to both those questions is God. So I’m going to make this a two-part blog:  what brought me here and why I’ve stayed here.  Let’s start with the prior. 

It was May of 2010 and I had just graduated college with a Bachelors in Secondary Education.  I applied at so many different schools and had nine interviews within about a two month window. All of the places I applied at were high schools. I was determined to teach the “older” kids.  I was also determined to stay in Iowa and teach. That’s where I went to college. And I loved it up there. Another reason I was determined to stay there was because the person I thought I was “in love” with, was there.  (Even though we had broken up.). I was so fixated on staying in Iowa so that’s where the majority of my applications went and 7 of my nine interviews!   

Well I wasn’t having any luck. None of the schools extended an offer to me so I went back to Independence, MO with my family and started working at a financial company in downtown Kansas City.  While in Missouri, I had one interview in the area for teaching, but low-and-behold, was not given an offer. 

One day I came home after my training from the company and I was so miserable.  I did not just spend four years and thousands of dollars in tuition to sit in a cubicle doing something that didn’t even require my degree.  And on top of that, having a desk job just wasn’t in my personality.  So I went to my room and did what anyone would’ve done… Searched Google!

I typed in “secondary English jobs in Kansas”.  I realized I hadn’t applied anywhere in Kansas. It brought me to CareerBuilder.com where it showed a posting for a 7th grade Langauge Arts position at South Middle School in this town called Liberal, Kansas. I’d never heard of it before. So I found the school website and was browsing around, there honestly wasn’t much on it, I actually thought it was a fake website!  Well, I went back to CareerBuilder and submitted my resume.  That was the only middle school I applied at, because remember… I was determined to teach high school. 

The next day I got a phone call from the principal, Mr. Rito. I was surprised and thought Oh it really IS a school. Haha. He wanted to schedule a phone interview and I agreed to it. He said he would call the next day at 9:45.  The next morning rolled around and it was about 9:30.  This was a Thursday. It was the last week of July so I knew schools were trying to find teachers. But I sat there in my room and debated on whether or not I should even answer the phone for the interview.  I told myself I would just ignore the call because they probably wouldn’t want me anyways, none of the other schools did.  As the phone rang I decided to answer it, to work on my interview skills honestly lol.  It was about a 30 minute interview and at the end Mr. Rito wanted to continue the process with an in person interview.  I agreed and he said OK let’s schedule it for Friday. We set a time and then I hung up.  After awhile I started thinking and I wondered Wait, did he mean THIS Friday, as in tomorrow, or NEXT Friday?  So I called him back (haha) and he did mean the very next day.  Well I couldn’t make it because one, it was only a day’s notice and two, I still had to do training for my job. So we schedule it for Sunday.  (Random!)

My mom and I made the drive down to Liberal, KS; we ended up staying at a hotel in Guymon, OK on Saturday. Sunday we found South Middle School and I proceeded inside for my interview. He kept talking all this gibberish about how the school was under restructuring and all of this work they were having to do because of that and test scores and all of the work it would require and all this data and blah blah blah.  Honestly, it was intimidating and I didn’t want to be a part of it. I didn’t think I could handle it. But then he asked me if I could see myself there and I just said yes… Because I wanted to teach, even though secretly I was hoping I wouldn’t get the job and I would just start applying at schools again the next year, take a year off and work in a cubicle. 

About three days later he calledme and extended the offer to me.  He just needed one of my professors, a reference, to talk to.  Well she was out of the country on a missions trip I believe.  She got back in time.  Received his call, recommended me.  I got the call back from Gib (Mr. Rito) and was told I needed to be down there in two weeks for new teacher training stuff. So that weekend, drove back down to Liberal, found a last minute apartment, went back to KC, packed up a UHaul and moved out.  I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, agreeing to teach seventh graders.  I didn’t think I would ever have anything in common with this age group. 

Now… this is my fifth year here and I don’t ever want to teach high school.  I absolutely love my job.  And let me tell you just how good God is:

  • God got me away from that relationship and fixation from Iowa and helped me grow more independent. 
  • Out of all the places I applied at it was the only middle school, only place in Kansas, last place I applied, last interview I had, and best salary for starting pay. 
  • I’ve never considered teaching somewhere else or a different grade, I love this age so much. 
  • I get to teach 7th grade, coach 8th grade basketball, and then coach high school soccer. Every year.  So I’ve known a lot of these kids since they were 12 now!  I get the best of both worlds. 
  • My coworkers are AMAZING, I enjoy the people I work with!
  • If I weren’t in Liberal, KS I would’ve never went through a particular trial which skyrocketed my faith and walk with the Lord.  I haven’t been the same since. 
  • I go to an amazing church where my faith has had a chance to grow and I’ve made lifelong friends. 

God knew what He was doing. And still knows.  Coming to Liberal, Kansas has been one of the best things to ever happen to me.  I know that sounds crazy, because most people here are trying to get out, but it’s true. God is good, all the time.  All the time God is good.

Married Life (from a single’s perspective)

If I could give married people advice it would be this…. (You’ll find out if you keep reading!)

I’m 27, a few months shy of 28. A teacher. A coach. Living in Small Town USA. By myself. No family within a 7 hour radius. I wake up, get ready for work, teach all day. Coach after that. Church activities throughout the week. Come home.  Eat. Get ready for bed. And repeat. 

It might sound like I’m complaining, but if you read it again with a more positive tone and mindset, I’m actually bragging!  I’m living the dream!  (God’s will for me right now in my life. #NoDoubt!)

Where I’m at right now in my life, is such a growing and learning experience.  The majority of my friends I spend time with are married. (And when I say majority, I mean majority!  I maybe have one or two friends that I hang out with that are single.)

And I’m completely okay with that!  One thing I’m very aware of is the position of power and influence that I have being a teacher and a coach. If you’ve read any of my previous posts you know that I always talk about people watching us. As a teacher and coach my students and players are watching me. They’re watching how I live. They’re paying attention to how I talk. Things I say. My tone of voice. How I react in certain situations; the good and the bad. What I’m like outside of the classroom.  How I interact with others. They’re definitely watching. And listening. And I’ve grown to be uber aware of that. I don’t want teenagers to have a reason to not find me as a credible person when it comes to my faith and the way I live. Do I mess up at times?  Yup. Sure do. 

But it got me thinking lately about being single and being around all my friends who are married. 

I’m a very observant person. I’m just like my students. I watch. I listen. I pay attention. I’m taking mental notes. On what?  you might ask. 

Married life.

Thankfully God has blessed me with many friendships in which case my married friends are setting an example. They’re modeling marriage for me, a Christian single.  I notice things:  like how a husband and wife talk to each other, in the good times and bad. Or how they treat their kids. The tone behind their words. Their actions. How they behave at churh. How they behave outside of church. Not just individually but as families, too. 

I understand every marriage is different.  And just like my students can tell which teachers are credible and which aren’t, Christian singles can tell when a marriage has a foundation of Christ. 

So if I could give married people advice it would be this:  Be aware that people are watching and listening, especially singles. I want a good example set for me!  I want something to look forward to!  Just like being a teacher and coach is a position of power and influence on young minds, being married is also a position of power and influence. 

Thankfully the Lord has blessed me with many many great examples of not just being married, but of marriage.

It really does help.