Sunday, February 3, 2013

What To Do?

I'm so ready to get back to making simple, beautiful dresses for spring and summer! Oh, and tunics as well.  Here's a dress I made this past Thursday:

If you read my previous post, I mentioned how I was gonna make something from the three fabrics that this dress is made of. 

I've been having them all for sometime  now, and after going through my fabric stash a couple weeks ago, I realized that they go so well together.

The batik piece in the front was hand dyed by a local artist who not only creates beautiful batik, but she also creates really nice African masks as well as acrylic paintings.  Unfortunately, she has no online presence (other than her personal facebook page), so I can't really direct you to a link to check out her work. However, I do look forward to collaborating on some creations with her in the near future, and I'll be sure to share those outcomes here.

I was able to dig up this article, so you can check it out to learn more about her and her work.

These days I'm customizing four of my dress styles for a lady in New York.  For a couple of them she's sent fabric from her own fabric stash.

The asymmetrical hem dress you see on the left above is one I made a few years ago.  I'll be making that same style out some pink African dashiki material such as that pictures on the right. 

I still, after so many years of doing it, stress out over creating custom garments for people! Especially when they live so many miles away.  Thankfully, though, the outcomes are usually positive and the person for whom I've made the clothes is pleased. In the event that things don't turn out as they expected--and this has happened a time or two--I do work to resolve the situation.

Despite any mishaps, I do enjoy recreating my designs for people and am grateful that they entrust me to do so.


So. I'm having a bit of a hard time making a decision.

If you follow me on Facebook, you may recall a post I did a few weeks ago where I spoke about being certified through the Louisiana Department of Education to teach sewing and fashion design in local public schools.  I've been on these people's (school system) case for over two years about creating a class in one of the schools for me to teach this skill.  The most recent exchange occurred via an email dialogue (because you can never reach these people by phone or in person) between me, the principal of the school pictured below, and one of the supervisors/lead teachers at the school.

Now. This is an alternative school that was just opened up this past fall (the school itself was built in the 1920s, but that's another story). There is soooo much controversy surrounding its existence: the haphazard way that the 3 or 4 programs it houses have been thrown together, the lack of direction from those who brought it about, the hard time teachers are having from the students (who are all behind academically and range in age from 11 to 18, I believe.), the fact that it's run like a prison facility, the high turnover rate among staff, etc. etc. etc.  And, if anyone reading this is familiar with the US educational system and its "alternative" programs, you'd be correct in assuming that it's mostly populated with black/African-American students....very close to 100%.

Well, I received a call--after not hearing anything since October-- from the person at the school board office who's partly over Human Resources. She was calling to inform me that they in fact were giving me a class over there to teach sewing.  She said the machines were set up and ready to go, and all I needed to do was come pick up my paper work and go have a physical.

Hold up! 

Knowing how they operate (chaotically and deceitfully...I worked in the system for over 3 years--in alternative education--doing other things), I decided that I would go to the school to check things out before I made a commitment to anything.  So Friday I showed up there, and after staying for 2 hours, I still was unable to catch up with the principal to get any insight on what was what with the sewing program.   One of the assistant principals took me to the "room" where I'd be teaching.  Turns out that it's in the back of the music room.  (Uuuuummmm... :-/ )  Those machines that were supposedly all set up and ready to go were actually piled in the back of the room needing a serious cleaning and oiling. No tables. No chairs.  No fabric. No supplies.  Yet, according to them the program is ready to go! 

I find myself in an awkward position.  I've been wanting to get a position teaching design in a local school, but now that this has come up, I'm second guessing it.  Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with taking nothing (which is basically what's in the back of that music room now) and turning it into a whole lot of something, and I actually like the idea of the freedom that I'll have in that regard.  Further, having only worked with alternative students (aside from when I substitute at some of the "better" schools around here...and as far as I'm concerned some of those students would fit right in at an alternative school!), I'm not intimidated or worried about that too much either. I feel like my approach to things and these type of students is such that I'll be able to maintain. (Although former co-workers of mine who now work at the alternative school have warned me that those students are on a whole other level of being out of control. They curse the teachers out, refuse to work, leave classrooms at will, etc.)

Despite the fact that my background is in alternative education, I don't know if I have it in me anymore to go to work and fight with students who really don't wanna be there, who are disrespectful, and who couldn't care less about doing anything other than talking about foolishness and nonsense. Additionally, all the drama from people I know who teach there (who for the most part have encouraged me not to come) regarding administration and lack of concern from some of the "higher ups" makes me tired just thinking about it. I enjoy sewing/designing and love teaching it, but will that remain the case if I accept this opportunity?

I'd like to think that they'd be more into electives, which is what my class would be. But from what I've been hearing, the art teacher--who is well-known for her work and whom I love and appreciate so much!--is even catching hell.  Apparently the original music teacher--also very well-versed and experienced in her craft-- walked out after some drama from a student. So, how would they act with sewing/design?

In an ideal situation, I'd get a position somewhere teaching sewing/design to some well-behaved (or well-behaved enough!), interested, and engaged students who understand that I am there to work with them  in order to teach them a technical skill, inspire them, and--as one of their teachers--ensure their general well-being.  Ideally, that's what would happen.  But on the other hand, I understand that it's the other students--the ones who find themselves in an alternative setting with less opportunities--who will likely benefit more from what I have to offer. Trust me, I'm aware of just about every philosophy there is when it comes to working in alternative education and with our children who mostly make up these schools.   So I do understand the need for myself and others to stick with them.  But can be so very draining!

I don't know.  Yes, I wanted a position, but I'm questioning this particular one. 

Any thoughts?



Anonymous said...

Kisura Flytie,
it is unfortunate no one has commented, but the industry of education, like the industry of health has become more chaotic than ever before in recent years to make them more profitable by opening up their markets.
anyway... :)
as someone who has educated as well, i tell you, I am not certain. It seems to me you need positive support at this time in your life. If you open your time up to any kid who wants an elective to gain credits you will end up with a majority of the pupils from the ranks of the disinterested. That injures your time and lets them cheat theirs. Find a way to get an interested bunch of kids.

MyCoCreations said...

Wow, talk about being careful and detailed when you ask for something.

I'm kinda torn in what I'd do as well. On one hand I think you might be able to make a difference in a few lives but on the other hand how much should you have to put up with to make that difference.

Hmmm maybe you can ask for a trail period???

Good luck and I'd love to hear the outcome. I'm sure you'll make the best decision.

Patricia Heath said...

Against all odds, I really believe you could pull this off. Don't say it would be easy, but I think you could do it.

I could imagine you hooking up your space as nice as possible so it has as little of that penitentiary look as possible (my schools looked like jails lol).

I could imagine you putting up pics of your work, many with yourself as the model and shots from your fashion shows, vending...just whatever you were willing to share. If I were a student it would demonstrate to me that you were the real deal and if I had any interest in sewing and fashion whatsoever it would peak my interest without you even saying a word.

I think the rest is projecting strength, but receptivity...even love. They will tell you what they need and you could use it to connect with them and reach them.

Even tho your description of the situation was a little scary, I could see success in this so clearly. It all depends on if you can make that love connection with enough of them, or at least the most important ones.

Felicia P. said...

Oh Ms. Tie...

That is quite the situation. And like the previous comment stated, I think you have the creativity and passion to turn this situation into something amazing. You just have to commit to it.

I would urge you to try and talk to administration about what your needs would be to REALLY be "ready to go" and see if they will accommodate.

Closed mouth... You know the rest.

It's possible they really don't know what it takes to teach a sewing and design class. Many of our crafts are so misunderstood this could be a chance to educate them as well.

If you decide to move forward with teaching there make sure a contract is drafted up and all your bases are covered. If there is any agreement for them to reimburse you for expenses to fix things up, be sure to get it in writing.

I believe the more professional you are the more they will be.

you have a wonderful gift to share. And this may or may not be the avenue to do it.

pray.meditate. And I am sending lots of positive energy and pray that clarity and discernment come at the right time.

<3 feeps

A Cuban In London said...

Good to see that you're still creating wonderful clothes. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Kiah Torres said...

What a great dress! Pray about this position and God will show you which way to go. I can say this...making a difference in just ONE person's life is worth all the struggle it took to make that difference. God never puts more on us than we can bear! Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog! Kiah

fly Tie said...

thank you all for the input! and cuban in london!!!!! it's been too long! :-)

so here is a update that i posted to facebook earlier this week:

"ok, fast forward a few days. i had been meditating on this matter all weekend trying to get a better understanding of what i should do. still with no clear answer--but feeling unsettled about it in my heart-- , i decided the take the position. filled out paperwork monday, was all set to go, and was supposed to start today. well, this morning outta nowhere my car started acting up (was in drive but wouldn't go. wow. ...something with the transmission.) get back in the house to call for backup, but then *I* get a call from the lady at the school board who informed me that i in fact could *not* start today, and they're not sure now if the class is even gonna "make"--meaning they don't know if they'll have enough students to take it (which makes no sense given what i'd been told monday.) she said they'll call me. so basically, there no longer is a class to speak of. look how fast all that happened. ha! i'm taking all this as a sign.............."

i'm not sure whether or not i'll hear back from them, but at least for now it seems like it wasn't meant to be.

i was just a *tinge* disappointed considering that i's put so much energy into preparing monday night for the first day and the rest of the wee,really--keeping in mind that there were no materials or anything there as of yet.

but i was also relieved for numerous reasons.

i'll be sure to keep you all posted on any new occurrences in this matter. maybe this just wasn't the right time, OR perhaps it's a sign for me to look at the even bigger picture and stop procrastinating on my own visions. I'm so grateful for divine intervention! :-)