Opportunity Knocks…at the most unexpected times

Sometimes you’re minding your own business when opportunity jumps up and hits you over the head.

Or whispers in your ear.

Or quietly waves from across the room.

Do you remember The Sound of Music when Maria is sent away from the abbey to be nanny to motherless children? She consoles herself with the thought that “When one door closes, another opens.” Or maybe it was a window.

In any case, it seems that sometimes a window opens before another has closed. We can find ourselves momentarily caught in the cross-draft wondering which one to shut.


I received an email out of the blue. It was short: “This made me think of you.”

Sometimes that’s all it takes.

Please understand, I’m happy in my career. I like my role and my school. I’m fortunate to have a wonderful principal. I feel like I’ve grown into my role, but not that I’ve grown out of it. While I feel very capable, there’s always room to grow. For me that’s a must have. I need to feel that I have room to stretch myself, to continue learning.

I have quiet, someday dreams for myself, but I haven’t been actively pursuing them. They were going to be for after…after my boys graduated, after I had time to pursue another certification, maybe after I tackled a PhD (another quiet, someday dream).

Then, out of the ether, came those six words.

I read them and my heart skipped several beats. My breath caught in my chest. My thoughts whirled.

All of my ‘grown up’ jobs have come this way. At the very beginning of my road to being a teacher I applied to be a substitute. The assistant principal called and asked me if I’d like to be their intern instead. He thought I’d be a good fit, and wouldn’t I like to know I’d be there every day? (Umm, yes.) From that middle school, I was invited to student teach at the high school in town. The assistant principal there brought me on board and connected me with her friend as my mentor. After I had my second son and took time away from teaching, I received a phone call from that mentor. Lorrie was the principal of another middle school now and she was looking for a reading teacher, would I be interested? (Again, yes I would.) Lorrie hired me. Two years into that role she encouraged me to pursue my reading degree. So I did. No matter that I had two small children, not yet in school themselves. And not long after Lorrie moved on to become principal of my current district, she reached out to me again. One of the elementary schools was looking for a reading consultant and she thought it might be a great fit for me. Would I like the contact information for that school? (Indubitably.) She hired (or recommended) me for all three of the schools where I’ve taught. She nudged me to become the literacy professional that I am.

So when this latest email arrived, I thought of Lorrie (recently named superintendent of my very first district). I thought of Nicole, my mentor. It’s not her this time, but another former colleague who reached out. I thought of the unexpected ways that the people we know and work alongside can shape our paths in ways we might not expect. Even long after our paths have diverged.

When I was young I felt adamantly that I never wanted to get something because of who I knew. At this point in my life I’ve come to realize that sometimes opportunities arise because of who knows us–our character, our principles, our work ethic and way of being in the world. And if someone knows who I am and feels that I  just might be the kind of someone who would be a good fit, well, maybe that’s an opportunity worth considering. It’s an opportunity earned because I’m me.

Just as I hadn’t known I was ready to return to teaching, to pursue a sixth year degree, or shift from the classroom to a coaching role, I hadn’t thought my quiet, someday dream would happen for years.

But here it is. Closer and more achievable than I’d imagined.

I feel honored to be thought of for this opportunity. While there are reasons not to dive head first through this door, I would always wonder, “what if?” if I didn’t at least push this window open a little wider and peek through. It may not lead anywhere. Or…


To all the colleagues and mentors who have shaped me, nudged me, framed my thinking or encouraged me to dip a toe into another pool–Lorrie, Nicole, Lynn, Karen, Theresa, Sarah, Joann, Lanny, Lydia, Lauren, Susan, Annie, Cathy, Kristen, Alison, Bianca and on–Thank you for thinking with me and of me.

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