It was a risky move not wearing my lucky outfit to the competition, but I traded it in for a new denim pencil skirt with a patterned orange blouse instead. I packed this outfit instead because the other outfit was notorious for getting wrinkled and I didn’t have the luxury of an iron in the Boston University dorms. I heard Mrs. T leave her room, so I grabbed the leather folder containing copies of my resume, adjusted my skirt and met her in the hallway. I graduated high school a few weeks before, so Mrs. T wasn’t technically my teacher anymore. I was still glad she decided to come and support me, even though it meant leaving her 6-month-old son at home.
“You look like an elementary school teacher” Mrs. T said as I was locking the door to my room.
I grinned at this compliment, feeling confident for the day ahead. We made our way down Commonwealth Avenue towards George Sherman Union, our home base for the weekend. It was my second year competing against other future educators. This year the Future Educators Association had completed its transition to becoming Educators Rising. Nerves began to grow stronger the closer we got to the room of my event. Although I was nervous, the stakes weren’t as high because there was no pressure to advance to the next level. I made it to Nationals and my goal was to do my best and enjoy the experience. Just outside of the room I did my favorite power poses and attempted to slow my breathing in preparation for my mock job interview.
After my best job interview yet, I left the room feeling exhilarated. The interview felt more like a casual conversation between equal people and less like an interrogation. I wished it had been a real interview because I would have loved to work for the two women I talked to.
Mrs. T greeted me outside, “It sounded like it went well”.
“What do you mean?” I asked, thinking she couldn’t know how I did since it was a closed event.
“I was standing outside the door the whole time” she admitted with a mischievous smile.
It was comforting to know that my teacher was so invested in my success that she was willing to risk being caught. The previous year she explained how she was always anxious for me when I would compete. The peak of our shared anxiety would be the anticipation before the closing awards ceremony. We had two days of sessions to attend, including one by my favorite motivational speakers Danny Ciamarra and Nick Jackson. Their passion for love-based pedagogy has shaped my own philosophy of teaching.
The next day we waited for the evening closing awards by attending more sessions aimed towards preservice teachers. As the day progressed I became so nervous about the results that I couldn’t focus on the presentations. I still think the closing ceremony should be the only event scheduled for the last day. Mrs. T found us a seat towards the front of the lecture hall, so she could get some good pictures, assuming I would place in the top 3 of my event. We sat through awards for other events, our anxiety building the longer we waited. My nervousness manifested as a constant feeling of needing to use the bathroom, which was unfortunate because I needed to stay in the room to know when my event would be announced.
Finally, the screen displayed the intimidating words “Job Interview Event” as the national president approached the podium. She read the description for the event and asked the top 5 finalists to stand when they saw their name on the screen. Shocked to see my name on the screen for the second year, I slowly stood up from my seat and watched Mrs. T get her camera ready. The president started with third place and asked the winners to collect their medals and prizes on stage. Suddenly, my name was called, and I felt my legs moving towards the stage. I won 2nd place at Nationals! I collected my certificate, medal, and gift card from the presenters. Mrs. T took some pictures signifying the end of my high school competitive career.
Relieved that my event had already been announced, I enjoyed watching others collect their own rewards. At the end of the ceremony, Mrs. T and I met my dad who had snuck in through the back doors. He missed my event due to a delayed train but was nonetheless proud of my accomplishment. The three of us shared an Uber to the Boston Sail Loft where we celebrated over dinner. A successful trip to Boston was nearing its end for Mrs. T, but my dad and I continued our journey the next morning on a train for Maine.