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Leaving teaching, finding teacher within

© 2008 Avocationist · March 3rd, 2008 · No Comments

Angelina Corbet
In the second part of our interview, Angelina Corbet talks about early influences, her childhood dream careers, and how she joined and left teaching only to have it work its way back into the core of her work.

“That was probably the hardest transition because I had to let go of the idea that I was not doing something the rest of my life.”

This is the second of our five-part interview. Find out more about Angelina and Vocationing at www.themobiuscompany.com

Read the interview:

Avocationist: Of all these transitions, were any of them particularly difficult for you or were there other things going on in your life with any of them that helped to push some of them?

Angelina: I think the single most difficult was when I left teaching.

Avocationist: How was it difficult?

Angelina: It was the most difficult because I had gotten in to teaching after having as a young person, as a teenager. Most teenagers babysat. I didn’t. I tutored. As a teenager, I knew that what I wanted to be when I grew up was a teacher.

When I got in to teaching, I thought I was going to die being a teacher. I worked for the New York City school system. I had a retirement fund. I was ready to teach the rest of my life. That was probably the hardest transition, because it was, “Oh my God. I have this job. I have this stable job. I thought I was always going to be a teacher. How could I possibly think I’m going to go do something else?”

Avocationist: When you were a teacher and you decided to change, what was it that made you leave teaching?

Angelina: I think I wound up leaving teaching because, to some extent, I got frustrated with the system.

I mean, if it was me and the kids and teaching, I might have been able to teach longer. The whole infrastructure of teaching, especially teaching in New York City which was one of the largest school districts in the country, just became overwhelming. With paperwork and details and it just wasn’t fun anymore.

I knew I was about a year away from hating it. I said, “Before I hate it, I’ve got to leave”.

Angelina: In some ways, it wasn’t as hard as it could have been because I did have a job while I was exploring the next career. I mean, I’ve had at least two or three career transitions where I left the old before I had the new. I had down time for a couple of months. But in that first change, I was a teacher while I was making the transition. I went back to school while I was teaching. I got a certificate in computer programming. Then I interviewed for a bunch of jobs.

Now, there are those who will point out that its almost 40 years later, and one of the way that I describe myself is as a teacher. I do training. Maybe all roads do lead to Rome.

I’ve found that at my core I’m probably a teacher more than I am anything else no matter what else I do. Whether it’s a facilitator, a storyteller, whatever it is. There is that teacher in me.

Angelina: That was probably the hardest transition because I had to let go of the idea that I was not doing something the rest of my life.

Avocationist: Are there people who have been especially helpful to you in your careers or along the way?

Angelina: I had two aunts pass away in the past year. For a variety of reasons, both of them were people who had no children and who went to work in the business world and they did so at a time when women basically didn’t do that.

Avocationist: So they were very different than what you saw around you.

Angelina: Women either were nurses or teachers and got married and stayed home with children. Both of these aunts did not do that. They went in to the business world. I thought about it when they both passed in the past year, that they had a tremendous influence on me in terms of thinking that as a woman, I could do anything I wanted to do.

Avocationist: That's a great message.

Angelina: I could do anything that I wanted to do. It never occurred to me that I couldn’t do certain things. For much of my career, I had been in male dominated industries, again, because I was very logical. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve moved much more in to right-brain areas. I have embraced the feminine. My aunts weren’t really mentors, but they were role models.

They were role models in some very profound ways.

Avocationist: That is so interesting. How much do you think, just the time that you grew up in - your generation, influenced what you ultimately did?

Angelina: I think my generation influenced me tremendously. I try to say this with some level of humility, I was someone who was very bright. In high school I excelled in the math and sciences. Despite the fact that I was maybe one of three or four handful of women in math classes. My generation nudged me into teaching. I was inclined because I liked teaching anyway, but there was nothing that was going to convince me in my generation not to be the teacher or a nurse. Even when I excelled in mathematics I was pushed more in that direction.

I was very influenced by that, initially. The second thing that my generation, I know that I was personally very, very influenced by the women’s movement.

Avocationist: How so?

Angelina: I had these role models in these two aunts. In the 1950’s and 60’s, and one of them even in the 40’s, they went out in to the working world. Then the women’s movement, and paying very much attention and being very influenced by that, made me pay a lot of attention to career transition and really just, “Okay, there’s nothing I can’t do. I can just go do this. Now I can go do this. Now I can go do this”.

Avocationist: Yeah.

Angelina: I know my career was very, very much shaped by that. Being that I used to be more of a “type-A” personality (I’m not anymore). With the type-A personality, I would just take on one challenge after the next, just, “Okay, next career, what’s the next career. How do we more of it. How do we do it better”.

Avocationist: How did that impact your view of work?

Angelina: Really as women, you were was driven in some ways to pay attention to those you are, what your job is. Instead of saying, “I’m Mrs. Jones”, which is what our mothers would say. They would take pride in their husbands and their children. Instead, my generation substituted the job for the husband and children and the job became your relationship.

Avocationist: Right. Like the traditional male model at that time too.

Angelina: Yeah.

Avocationist: Do you remember anything that you wanted to be when you were a little child?

Angelina: Oh, absolutely. I wanted to be an actress.

Avocationist: Awesome.

Angelina: Wanted to be an actress. I had the good fortune, several years ago of bringing a production of “The Vagina Monologues” to Charlotte. I got to be at Spirit Square, center stage, and I was an actress. I can die now. I mean, I’ve done it all.

Avocationist: An actress. Did you want to be anything else when you were a kid?

Angelina: A lawyer.

Avocationist: Okay. You haven’t done that yet.

Angelina: I haven’t done that yet. I don’t think I’m ever going to be a lawyer. The actress piece, it’s just because I love the draw of the crowd and the smell of the greasepaint. That is just wonderful. I could be addicted to that kind of stuff. I used to be. Not anymore, but I used to be addicted to that.

Avocationist: How about the law?

Angelina: I was interested in being a lawyer, because I love the nuances of seeing two sides to of an argument, or just the position of opinions. I just love the duality of that stuff. I love seeing how it’s not really the opposites and you think they’re the opposites, but they’re not the opposites.

That’s the aspect of law I really like. But I don’t think I’m going to do that. Those are the two things I wanted to be, an actress and a lawyer.

In the next segment, Angelina talks about her success in the Corporate World and discovering a the need for more change: Angelina's "Is this all there is?" moment.

Tags: Mid-Life Career Change · November Newsletter · Teaching

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