Stephen Paling // My Teaching

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Educator, Interrupted


My sojourn through the classroom has two distinct chapters.

In the first chapter, I taught for over 15 years in higher education, mostly in library and information studies. The early 2000s found me as a faculty first at SUNY-Buffalo, then the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I was publishing regularly, racking up teaching evaluations that trended strongly positive, and life felt good. Then along came tenure. My colleagues in the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS), voted unanimously to give me tenure. The University overturned them. SLIS fought hard for me on appeal, but lost. I was the fourth consecutive faculty member to run into similar tenure troubles. Proverbially long story short, my academic rocket ride was over. Twists and turns ensued before I found myself back in Ithaca, where I had lived briefly before getting married.

The second chapter began with a career change. After some adjuncting at Ithaca College and Cornell, I decided it was time to hang it up and leave higher ed. I became a substitute teacher in two local school districts, then I was hired as a Teaching Assistant in Dryden, NY. After a year in the elementary school library, I transferred to Dryden High School to work in special education. I spend my days with quirky, wonderful kids who can offer us all a new perspective on, well, everything. I also feel blessed with one of the best groups of coworkers I’ve ever had.

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