The Strange Story of Mr. Maley
I don't have a degree in science, at least not in real science. Yet two years ago, at age 47, I started a new career as a science teacher.
How did this bizarre turn of events come to pass?
Let's start at the beginning ...
I grew up in suburban Washington, D.C., except for the two years my family lived in Anchorage, Alaska.
When I was 12 I moved to Macon. I attended Central High school, where I was assistant editor for the school newspaper and sixth seed on the tennis team. My favorite teacher often told me stories about his experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal. I had a part-time job as a copy clerk at the Macon Telegraph.
I attended the University of Georgia for a year, but then I got the crazy idea of transferring to the University of Washington in Seattle. While I was a student there I had a summer job as a tour guide in Juneau, Alaska. I graduated from UW with a degree in political science. I didn't figure out that it was not a real science until years later.
During my senior year in college I realized I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up, so I visited the Peace Corps recruiter on campus. She said the only job available to a liberal-arts major was teaching English, and I would have to wait a year to join because there was such a long waiting list. There was a big demand for science teachers, however, and if I took a few more courses I would qualify to teach physics and leave right after I graduated. So that's what I did.
I taught physics for two years in a high school in Cameroon, West Africa. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
When I left Cameroon I spent five months traveling in Kenya, Tanzania, India, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
After a few years we tried to start a family, but we struggled with infertility. So we adopted a baby boy, José, who was born in Guatemala. It turned out that the adoption cured the infertility, and a second boy, Billy, came along just four months after Jose came to live with us.
When Jose and Billy started elementary school, I went back to the Telegraph to work part-time. Then I joined the staff of Macon Magazine as an editor, writer and office manager. I was still working part-time, so the boys wouldn’t need after-school care. By this time Amy was working as a financial planner, but money was tight. When the boys started middle school, I decided to find a full-time job. This was right when a recession hit, so the prospects weren't that good.
The journalism field didn’t look promising, because people had changed their reading habits. They now looked at computer screens for information instead of printed pages. (But you would never do that, would you?) After talking to friends and relatives in the education field, I finally decided what I wanted to be when I grew up: a high-school teacher.
If my students learn just one thing from this strange story, it should be this: