I visited Wal-Mart on Friday, November 7 and was shocked to discover that even though Halloween just ended and we haven’t even yet overdosed on turkey, apparently it is already Christmas!

I actually went into two separate stores in Santa Clarita: the one at 25450 The Old Road near Stevenson Ranch and the one near Valencia at 27931 Kelly Johnson Parkway, just off of Copper Hill/Rye Canyon.

Both stores had associates setting up the Christmas displays and making related preparations.  Photos from each store are provided below — the first photo is from the store on Kelly Johnson Parkway and the second is from the store on The Old Road:

Wal-Mart 2008 Christmas Decorations

Wal-Mart Christmas Decorations 2008

Apparently, I am a bit late in realizing Wal-Mart’s early push: An October 1, 2008  story that aired on the CBS station in Los Angeles highlighted the retailer’s plans to get a head start on the Christmas shopping season.

I suppose I was more surprised than shocked to see Christmas trees already. The first week of November seems a bit early for Christmas, but I recall seeing Valentine’s Day items in my local Rite Aide just after Christmas last year. It seems every year the time betwen each major holiday shopping periods grows shorter as retailers try to capitalize on early-birds and those easily influenced by holiday “sales.”

Given the current state of the economy I am curious to see what happens this holiday season. Traditionally, the Friday after Thanksgiving is referred to as “Black Friday” by most retailers — meaning that on that day they finally transition from operating at a loss (in the red) to operating at a profit (in the black). Yet, given the tremendous economic upheaval and uncertainty going on, I wonder if this day will ever come for any retailer.

Still, there are reports of Wal-Mart experiencing a surge in sales, even as other retailers struggle.  Wal-Mart reported that same-store sales in October were up 2.4 percent as compared with October 2007, not including fuel sales. Including fuel sales the increase was 2.5 percent. Comparatively, Target reported sales of 0.7 percent lower for this October 2008 compared with 2007.

A Los Angeles news station even featured a segment in which a reporter interviewed shoppers at al-Mart demonstrated that even those who drive a Mercedes were driven to save money at the popular discounter. All were focused on saving money and getting the best possible deal.

I wonder how many people are getting coal in their stockings this year — assuming, of course, that coal is still affordable!

ampm_logoLast night I had an unexpected experience at the AM/PM on Ming Avenue near the 99 Freeway in Bakersfield while getting coffee for my drive home: comped coffee!

That’s right, a whole $1.39 of coffee for free! Who says good things never happen to nice people? I had just left the DeVry Center where I had stayed late to grade assignments for the two classes I am now teaching — COMP-100 (Computer Applications for Business with Lab) and BUSN-115 (Introduction to Business and Technology) — and was “filling up” with caffeine for the 75 mile drive south.

As I was mixing plenty of creamer and sugar into my coffee the lights went out on the entire corner and nearby areas. At that point the clerk and I were the only people inside the building — which suddenly became eerily quiet without the constant humming of equipment that normally permeates the store.

I was unsure what to do. Despite it being dark outside and very late, I felt no great sense of urgency or panic. The clerk was busy looking for a flashlight and didn’t give me any instructions either. So, I continued making my coffee! Of course, since it was dark I had to use my cell phone as a flashlight while I mixed and stirred my drink, but all things considered it worked out well.

Of course, when I was done and asked the clerk how to pay him, he admitted that, given the circumstances there was really no way he could charge me for the coffee (the register and everything else was locked and had no power). So, I thanked him and graciously accepted my “comped coffee!”

I wonder if a free lunch is next?

On March 5th of this year I posted photos I took while traversing the Grapevine portion of Interstate 5 in California on the morning of January 23, 2008 to the DeVry University Center in Bakersfield where I have been teaching since October 2007.

As I mentioned, due to the snow that began to fall that morning, as of 3 p.m. that day the California Highway Patrol (CHP) decided to close the 5 between Castaic and the base of the Grapevine and it remained closed through a good portion of the following day.

Due to my teaching schedule at DeVry I had already planned to stay over in Bakersfield that night, but the continued closure of the 5 the following day, Thursday, January 24, 2008, necessitated my taking the “long way” home on Higway 58 East through Tehachapi to the 14 Freeway South.

This was  a route which, at that time, I was driving on Monday afternoons to get to a class I was teaching in Palmdale once I finished my classes in Bakersfield. From the 14 South I made my way to Interstate 5 North and home to Santa Clarita (though this post does not include photos of that leg of the journey).

With Southern California currently sweltering under a relentless heatwave, today seemed like a perfect time to share some photos I took of that snowbound adventure.

Note that the photos below were taken roughly between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. and are only from the portion of the trip on Highway 58 and do not include much less interesting shots I took while driving south on the 14.

Although it was not heavily snowing, though there was an intermittent dusting. Overall it was an enjoyable drive and was especially interesting once I got to the portion of the highway where the windmills are visible.

Hopefully the photos of this trip will provide some kind of relief for those of you who are now contending with temperatures in the 90s and 100s.

Photo Taken January 24, 2008 on Highway 58 East

Photo Taken January 24, 2008 on Highway 58 East

Photo Taken January 24, 2008 on Highway 58 East

Photo Taken January 24, 2008 on Highway 58 East

Photo Taken January 24, 2008 on Highway 58 East

Photo Taken January 24, 2008 on Highway 58 East

Photo Taken January 24, 2008 on Highway 58 East

Photo Taken January 24, 2008 on Highway 58 East

Photo Taken January 24, 2008 on Highway 58 East

Photo Taken January 24, 2008 on Highway 58 East

Photo Taken January 24, 2008 on Highway 58 East

Photo Taken January 24, 2008 on Highway 58 East

Photo Taken January 24, 2008 on Highway 58 East

Photo Taken January 24, 2008 on Highway 58 East

Achieving and maintaining high performance levels in any organization requires an effective communication system — otherwise there will be no way to exchange information and share knowledge.

This paper explores a highly effective tool with which an organization can improve its organizational communication: Intranets.  The abstract of the paper reads as follows:

With increasing frequency, organizations are implementing intranets to improve their internal communication, increase productivity and reduce operating expenses. This paper defines the need for improved internal communication, outlines the history of intranets, explores their benefits, notes the risks and solutions, and offers implementation insights to which an organization can refer.

iabd-business-research-yearbookThis was the first scholarly paper I wrote that was published. I originally wrote it in the fall of 2002 for an organizational behavior and strategy class in my MBA program at Woodbury
University
.

Upon the suggestion of my instructor — Dr. Satinder K. Dhiman, the Associate Dean of Business and MBA Program Chair — I submitted it for publication in the 2003 Business Research Yearbook of the International Academy of Business Disciplines (IABD).

Fortunately my paper was accepted and I presented it at the group’s annual conference in Orlando, Florida that April. The experience was an exceptionally positive one that opened my eyes to the option of academia as a career path.

Two months later, in June 2003, I flew to Honolulu, Hawaii to present the same paper at the International Business and Management Research Conference (IBMRC), which had also been published in the organization’s refereed academic journal, The Business Review, Cambridge. I was also recognized with the “Best Presenter” award at the conference.

If you would like to read my paper, you can read it online on Academia.edu. I welcome your thoughts and comments — please contact me at doctorious (at) generative (dot) com.

Update: My paper was cited in the 2004 book “MBA In A Day: What You Would Learn At Top-Tier Business Schools (If You Only Had The Time!) ” by Dr. Steven Stralser. It was apparently used as a general source of information in a chapter dealing with Intranets! The citation appears on page 262 and covers material presented on pages 260 to 262.

Last Wednesday, April 2, 2008 marked the first annual “World Autism Awareness Day.” The day was created by the General Assembly of the United Nations which voted in November 2007 to establish the annual event date as an opportunity for Member States to raise awareness about children with autism.  Various events and lectures were planned around the globe and CNN scheduled all-day coverage about autism. April is also National Autism Awareness Month.

Autism Awareness RibbonWhat is autism? According to the Autism Society of America, “Autism is a brain development disorder that impairs social interaction and communication, and causes restricted and repetitive behavior, all starting before a child is three years old. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.”

Autism is one of five disorders considered a Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD), a category of neurological disorders characterized by “severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development.”

These disorders include: Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD), Rett’s Disorder, PDD-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). Each disorder has specific diagnostic criteria which been outlined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR).

Diagnosed in an estimated 1 in 150 children, autism is the most common Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and the numbers are on the rise. It is estimated that as many as 1.5 million Americans have some form of autism.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education and other governmental agencies indicates that autism is growing at an alarming rate of 10-17 percent per year — and the Autism Society of America estimates that 4 million Americans could be diagnosed in the next decade.

Below are some additional facts about autism, courtesy of Autism Speaks, an advocacy group:

Basic Facts

  • 1 in 150 children is diagnosed with autism
  • 1 in 94 boys is on the autism spectrum
  • 67 children are diagnosed per day
  • A new case is diagnosed almost every 20 minutes
  • More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined
  • Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
  • Autism costs the nation over $90 billion per year, a figure expected to double in the next decade
  • Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases
  • Boys are four times more likely than girls to have autism
  • There is no medical detection or cure for autism

Incidence vs. Private Funding

  • Leukemia: Affects 1 in 25,000 / Funding: $310 million
  • Muscular Dystrophy: Affects 1 in 20,000 / Funding: $175 million
  • Pediatric AIDS: Affects 1 in 8,000 / Funding: $394 million
  • Juvenile Diabetes: Affects 1 in 500 / Funding: $130 million
  • Autism: Affects 1 in 150 / Funding: $15 million

National Institutes of Health Funds Allocation

  • Total 2005 NIH budget: $29 billion
  • $100 million goes towards autism research
  • This represents 0.3% of total NIH funding

Autism has clearly become the polio of our time and something must be done to reverse its progress. If we don’t act now and dedicate more research dollars to finding a cure and treatment, while also finding a way to convince the health insurance industry to cover the costs associated with treatment we run the risk of losing an expontentially increasing percentage of this generation’s children to autism.

The impact of autism on families is extensive. Emotionally, it can be draining. Mentally it can be consuming. Physically it can be exhausting. Financially, it can be devastating. In addition to the divorce rates of parents with autistic children being higher than the average, many families of children with autism struggle to avert bankruptcy.

It’s no wonder, the costs involved are daunting: from the early intervention and treatment services (which only a handful of states cover) to the lost income from one parent in a two-parent household who must stay home with the affected child while services are provided, autism affects an entire family, not just the individual overcoming it.

Raising a child is stressful enough — raising a child with autism is beyond compare. That is not to say that raising a child with autism is totally unlike raising a “neurotypical” child, it just puts things within a different framework.

I speak from personal experience: my older son, Jacob, who will turn five this September, was diagnosed with autism just before his third birthday.  We have come a long way since then, but still have far to go. He is now speaking contextually, exhibiting emotion and is full of boundless energy. Some days are full of joy while others are full of challenges parents of children without autism truly cannot comprehend.

Fortunately Jacob is on the higher functioning end of the spectrum and has many skills that a typical child near his age has (though developmentally he is not functioning at a level consistent with his chronological age). He is a sweet and smart little boy with a curiosity about the world and great potential to do wonderful things with his life.

We are grateful for the services he has received and credit them with a great deal of his progress so far. However, we have also had to aggressively advocate on his behalf to ensure he continues to receive the services to which he is entitled.

Jacob currently receives his applied behavior analysis (ABA) services through the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) — a worldwide leader in the field founded by Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh. His Individualized Education Program (IEP) is coming up in a month and my wife and I are beginning to prepare for battle with the Saugus Union School District to ensure that he receives the most appropriate and beneficial services.

As a father, Jacob has taught me many lessons about life. but I know I have much more to learn. I now appreciate the small steps in life and applaud incremental improvement, however small, because it represents movement in the right direction. I admire his sweet and loving disposition and marvel at his unbridled joy and creativity. He is a wonderful little boy who has inspired me to become a better father and, frankly, a better person.

For additional information about autism, I encourage you to visit the following:

I received an e-mail from a reader of my blog asking for suggestions as to how she could “break in” to academia as an adjunct instructor.  Although I am far from an expert at navigating the potentially pitfall-ridden pathway to academic employment, I felt it might be helpful to relate some of my experiences so far.

Whether or not they will work for anyone else — or, to be brutally honest, me — is unclear.  However, I am a firm believer that by doing good I can do well, so here goes: Craigslist education and teaching jobs (seriously).

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I mostly use Craigslist for Los Angeles, but have also explored the sites for Ventura, Santa Barbara (which is how I found the opportunity at UC Santa Barbara Extension) and Bakersfield (which is how I found out about the opportunity at DeVry University).

I have found Craigslist to be a great source of leads for adjunct level positions and even some full time ones. In fact, with the exception of my position at Axia, every single adjunct teaching job I now have was the result of a posting on Craigslist.

I first ventured into education by teaching traffic school for nine months — and, yes, I found the job on Craigslist! Despite not being academic, teaching traffic school helped me develop my classroom management and curriculum development skills.

Mind you, I did this of my own free will (there were no court orders or community service hours involved!). I realize the mere thought of traffic school has already made some of you uncontrollably twitch and or gag, but I could not have asked for a more effective “entry level” experience.

It was a great way to test the waters of teaching — especially because those waters were full of sharks and piranhas. Think of it this way: what better way to prove that you are meant to teach than by putting yourself in the worst possible teaching situation and making a difference?

Knowing that everyone in attendance would have rather spent an afternoon making human pyramids at Abu Ghraib, I went out of my way to make the class as interesting and engaging as possible. Granted, I still had to show the requisite outdated videos about road rage, traffic safety and related topics — but I found clever ways to stay within the DMV’s guidelines while managing to have some fun.

I even managed to show a few minutes of the campy 1985 film “Moving Violations,” starring John Murray (the lesser known brother of Bill Murray), Jennifer Tilly, James Keach, Sally Kellerman, Fred Willard and Clara Peller — the octogenarian actress best known for the 1984 “Where’s the beef?” ad campaign for Wendy’s.

One of the highlights of the day happened just after lunch when, as an introduction to the curriculum about drinking and driving,  I showed mugshots of celebrities arrested for DUI to the students and had them guess who everyone was. I knew it was working when the evaluator who showed up at one of my classes unannounced after lunch was laughing!

I am extemporaneomoving-violations-signsus by nature, so a good part of my “material” was improvised based on what was discussed in class.

I found that engaging the students directly and making them a part of the program made the day more interesting for me, but (big surprise!) it actually made them more interested in the class as well.

Of course, being “interested” in traffic school is a relative term — don’t for a minute think I was recreating scenes from Stand and Deliver! That being said, it was a rewarding and (to use a “report card word”) unique experience unlike anything I could have imagined.

Since then I have taught 15 sections of asynchronous online writing and business communication courses for Axia College of University of Phoenix. I have also taught ten sections of computer, English and management courses in a hybrid classroom/asynchronous online model at DeVry University in Bakersfield.

I have also taught one section of a buying behavior course at UC Santa Barbara Extension along with one principles of marketing course and one organizational behavior class at International American University, a private school focused on providing Asian students with an American education.

As for another resource, I have to give massive applause to the members of the Chronicle of Higher Education Forums — what a wonderful resource they all are! There are threads on all sorts of topics of interest to a aspiring academic — and a good number of the members are active and emeritus professors.

Everyone is very willing to share their insights and experiences — often with an unexpected sense of humor (teachers are people too!). I’ve asked (and had answered) questions about which Ph.D. programs to pursue to how I should format my CV.

Its best to sit quietly and read many of the existing threads before jumping in head first — what until you get a flavor for the tone and temperament of the place. If you want to avoid posting threads all together and just want to go straight for raw information, check out the following threads/resources:

I also found my way to a Facebook Group sponsored by The Babb GroupMake a Living Teaching Online — it is definitely worth signing up for; even if you just lurk and read the posts made by others the information is exceptionally helpful.

Hopefully these resources are useful to those of you looking for information on how to transition into a career in academia. Certainly, my experiences are not typical, but then I suppose they are not entirely atypical.

Happy teaching!

California: land of surf, sun, and… snow?

I took the photos below on the morning of Wednesday, January 23, 2008 between roughly 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. as I made my way North on Interstate 5 through the Grapevine portion of the freeway (the area between Gorman, CA and Lebec, CA). This was the start of what I believe was the first major storm of the season.

By 3 p.m. that same day, the California Highway Patrol closed the 5 between Castaic and the base of the Grapevine; it remained closed through a good portion of the following day. I had planned to stay in Bakersfield that night anyway so this development didn’t immediately affect me.

However, the continued closure of the 5 the next day, Thursday, January 24, 2008, necessitated my taking the “long way” home which I normally drove on Mondays to get to my class in Palmdale: the 58 Freeway East through Tehachapi — my “favorite” drive (the topography is beautiful; I feel as if I am driving through a train set!).

Here are pictures from my journey (click the image for a larger version):

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Once I cleared the Grapevine and began the descent into the valley below (the portion of the 5 just before the 5/99 split) I saw a full rainbow! It began roughly over the freeway a few miles ahead and actually seemed to end at an IKEA distribution warehouse!

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I hope you enjoyed these photos — more to come soon!

A blur.

That’s what the past two months feel like. When I last posted to this blog the new year had just begun and I was a few days away from beginning several new classes at various campuses across Southern California (in addition to my continued online teaching).

The experience was both overwhelming and invigorating. I would not have traded it for the world. The schools for which I worked and the classes I taught included the following:

  • Axia College of University of Phoenix (Online): Contemporary Business Communication (COM/140), Effective Essay Writing (COM/150) and Utilizing Information in College Writing (COM/125).
  • DeVry University (Bakersfield): Composition (ENGL-112), Critical Thinking and Problem Solving (COLL-148), PC Hardware and Software (COMP-129), Project Management (MGMT-404).
  • International American University (Palmdale): Marketing (BUS-505) and one class of Organizational Behavior (BUS-525).
  • UC Santa Barbara Extension (Goleta): Buying Behavior (BUSAD X409.47).

20080124_hwy_58_east_16

Most surprisingly was the number of miles I found myself driving each week. In the first week alone I logged 950.6 miles (across six days)! Initially I was scheduled to make the round trip from Santa Clarita to Bakersfield on Interstate 5 five days a week with one return trip through Palmdale (via the 58 Freeway) where I teach an additional class on Mondays. I also spent five consecutive weekends making a round trip to and from Santa Barbara for my class at UCSB Extension.

Fortunately I was able to revise my schedule and cut out a round trip to Bakersfield, reducing my total days of driving from six to five. However, this  only marginally reduced my total miles to 842.2 miles the following week. Overall I wound up averaging between 700 and 800 miles weekly — and had my oil changed twice!

In total, from January 1st through February 29th I estimate that I drove a total of 6,212.80 miles! Granted this is not exact (and it could be over or under by a 100 to 200 miles), but suffice it to say I enjoyed some serious quality time with my car!

To alleviate the strain of constant travel, I stayed a total of seven nights in Bakersfield (on Wednesdays when I had a late night class followed by an early one the following morning — plus one additional night on a Tuesday).

I made the mistake of spending the first night in a Motel 6 for the bargain price of $35. I knew I was in for a treat when my room had no working television, the heater was stuck on and the thermostat was missing all of its buttons. Plus the shower closely resembled the “Orgasmatron” from the Woody Allen movie “Sleeper!”

The next week I discovered the Vagabond Inn (Bakersfield South) — a veritable palace compared with the Motel 6, and with their Internet rate — was only $5 more! All of the rooms offered a mini-fridge, microwave and coffee maker — in addition to free wireless Internet (which was unfortunately unreliable — good thing I have a Sprint Mobile Broadband account!).

I was unable to get from Santa Clarita to Bakersfield three times in a row during the two month span. The first time, the last Monday in January, was due to a personal matter and then two days later, on Wednesday, Mother Nature stepped in and blasted the Grapevine with a snowstorm, resulting in the closure of Interstate 5.

After traveling no more than one mile, I was stuck on the 5 in Castaic for an hour after the CHP closed the freeway and forced everyone off at the Hasley Canyon exit. Humbled, I retreated home and admitted defeat.

I then missed the very next Monday, which was the first one in February and also the day after the New England Patriot’s heartbreaking loss to the New York Giants in Superbowl XLII (I was born in Boston and was avidly following the team’s amazing season — now the “perfectly imperfect season” as I like to call it).

Still in a state of shock and cycling through the stages of grief, I decided I would make a valliant effort to circumvent the snowed-in Grapevine.

20080124_hwy_58_east_13

So, I drove all the way to Palmdale on the 14 Freeway, intending to make my way West to Bakersfield on the 58 Freeway (the reverse course I normally took on Mondays to get to Palmdale for my afternoon class). Unfortunately, by the time I got there, the storm had moved East and the 58 was closed too!

For a brief slice of time the freeway re-opened, and I got as far as Tehachapi until the CHP, concerned with the weather once more, began escorting traffic, which resulted in a three to five mile backup. Drained, I admitted defeat and realized I was stuck and would not get to Bakersfield that day. I also missed my Palmdale class. What a day!

And now, slightly more than two months later, I have embarked on another session of classes with DeVry, completed my class at UC Santa Barbara Extension and cycled through to new blocks of classes at Axia. I am also now facilitating a new course online: Written Communication (COM/215).

Despite these various changes, one thing has become clear: I thoroughly enjoy teaching and, even though I realize I have a long way to go to refine my craft, I am very grateful for these opportunities to do so. What is also glaringly apparent is that it has been far too long since I updated this blog. It isn’t as if I didn’t think about it, however.

Every few days I kept thinking that I really needed to post something new — a quick update, a brief note, a random picture or two — but every day I was overwhelmingly busy just being busy. I found that there were some small points I wanted to make but that I felt compelled to explain the bigger ones first, thereby resulting in a back log.

20080123_5_freeway_north_14

Ironically, I used this blog as a launching point for assignments in two of my classes: English 112 (Composition) at DeVry and BUSAD X409.47 (Buying Behavior) at UC Santa Barbara Extension.  My students had mixed reactions to the experience, but, all things considered it was an engaging experience for each of them that I think (well, at least hope), provided some helpful hands-on exposure to blogging.

Despite the fact that I did not add anything to this blog for some time, I did take several photos of my various trips to and from the many locations at which I was teaching. I will post them separately in a few days along with several new posts I have been waiting to make. Thanks for your patience and, to whoever out there reads this blog, your interest!

This past week has been one of exceptional transition for me on multiple levels: physically, metaphysically, emotionally, personally and professionally. I am sure I left out a few other relevant words that also end in “lly” but you get the idea.

After realizing that an “employment experiment” into which I recently endeavored was not a fit for me, instead of postponing the inevitable, I made a conscious decision to recuse myself before things became untenable. After a reasonably painless, but seemingly too long final two weeks, my last day was this past Friday.

I am now filled with an empowering sense of pride and excitement. Interestingly, this feeling lingered in the back of my mind on and off for several months, but never found a conduit through which it could blossom. However, it began to emerge during New Student Orientation (NSO) at Fielding Graduate Unviersity and has been a constant undercurrent ever since.

UC Santa Barbara: 1109 North HallSomething about the experience really “flipped a switch” and confirmed to me that teaching is the path I need to pursue.  After NSO I felt as if I had to heed this call; nothing else would satiate it. I primarily see myself as a classroom teacher and secondarily in a corporate training role, although these two incarnations of the same concept are not mutually exclusive: I can envision serving in both capacities concurrently.

Beyond being inspired by the whole NSO experience on an emotional level, I also experienced tangible changes happening on a more physical level. There was positive energy in action. From connections I made during NSO to my interviewing with and being hired to teach at UC Santa Barbara Extension on the same day NSO ended,  there was a palpable energy in the air that finally seemed to be connecting all of the right dots for me. It was as if NSO — and by extrapolation Fielding — was a conduit of opportunity for me.

I have “gone out on my own” before, but my efforts were focused on a skill, not a strength — and that has made all the difference. During previous attempts I tried to stake my claim as a marketing consultant specializing in website design — and while I always had “some” work, I was never fully able to get into gear. And, even when I did get some kind of rhythm going, I wasn’t fully engaged by it. I still enjoy working on websites and see it as an incomparable medium for education, but now realize that my calling is not as a freelance web designer.

I am now committed to and focused on opportunities that seem to be continuously revealing themselves to me, recognizing how long I waited for this to happen and how fortunate I feel to finally be at this point.  Ironically, I enjoy teaching marketing and find some humor in the fact that it is where my interests still are. But, I realize now that with learning as my top strength, I need to focus on teaching as the expression of my intention.

When I initially made this decision, I had a few opportunities locked in, but it was far from a “safety net.” However, in just a few weeks, the stars and planets seem to be in alignment. I am again teaching online writing and communication courses for Axia College of University of Phoenix and will start teaching in the marketing professional certificate program of UC Santa Barbara Extension in January.

In the coming weeks I am expecting to be teaching writing and possibly business courses for another private university. I also plan to work with younger students in need of specialized instruction through Kaplan K12 Learning Services where I was invited on Saturday to participate in teacher training after an “audition” on Thursday! I still have a few other options in progress, and am just trying to be careful not to over-commit. After all, I still need time for studying of my own!

I think the icing on the cake came tonight when I went go get some books at Barnes and Noble where they gave me an “Educator’s Discount Card.” To paraphrase Pinocchio’s statement to Gepetto: I’m a real teacher now!