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Adding another job title to my life list

Moseyin’ Along

September 6, 2011
By Joyce Schenk, COLUMNIST
Through the years, we’ve all acquired job titles describing the central focus of our career lives. This list doesn’t include such full-time day-to-day activities as “wife” and “mother.”

And in my case, I’ve also left out my long-time involvement as a member of our volunteer fire and rescue squads and as a community pharmacy tech volunteer.

My personal job list is devoted to those activities for which I’ve earned a paycheck. And the first of these carried the title of medical technologist.

This career was the culmination of four long years of study in classrooms and laboratories and a residency in a hospital setting. The training allowed me to work in the fascinating field of laboratory medicine.

Unfortunately, as time went by, the government stepped in with a growing list of regulations that made the work unnecessarily restrictive. That, coupled with a change in focus from patient care to profit, took the joy out of the work for me.

When I left the lab behind, I shifted my interest to writing. Although I had been dabbling at being a wordsmith since my teens, I decided to make it my prime focus some thirty years ago. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of serving as a reporter and feature writer for weekly and daily newspapers, business editor for a large regional magazine, columnist for two area magazines and, of course, ongoing columnist for the weeklies I’ve Moseyed Along with for more than 22 years.

And, thanks to these Moseyin’ Along columns, I’ve also added the title “author” to my resume with two collections of columns published as “I’ve Become My Mother....” in 2002 and “I’m Worrying As Fast As I Can,” published in 2009.

I hadn’t thought about my lifetime list of job titles for quite a while — until last week. That’s when I stopped at a local business supply store to pick up some office necessities.

Since our local schools were set to open the next week, the place was crowded. Everyone, it seemed, was on a last-minute search for school supplies for the busy season ahead.

Just inside the door, a table had been set up with gift bags to honor area teachers. Presiding over the table was Linda, a delightful young lady who is a student at the local branch of Edison State College. Linda is also one of my former writing students.

After she gave me a hug, Linda surprised me with a teacher’s gift bag.

“You certainly deserve one of these,” she said with a smile.

Holding the little bag in my hands, I suddenly realized I could claim membership in a field I have respected all my life — the field of teaching.

Although I’ve considered myself an “instructor,” I had never applied the title “teacher” to what I’ve done for more than twenty years. Through the period, I’ve led classes in journaling, memory writing and many other aspects of the world of writing.

The sessions have been held in settings ranging from The Writers’ Center at Chautauqua Institution to a retreat at a bed and breakfast, from a senior citizen high rise in Atlanta to a rural fire hall, from classrooms at SUNY at Fredonia to Edison State College’s Punta Gorda campus.

Each of the entries on my job title list has brought me priceless memories and deep fulfillment. But looking back, I must admit being considered a teacher — passing on what I’ve learned about crafting the written word into pieces that communicate with readers — has been the most fulfilling of all.


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