Thursday, March 25, 2010

Guest writer, Karen O'Connor

Today's entry is from guest writer Karen O'Connor, LPB Site Director in Half Moon Bay. Enjoy!

My name is Karen O’Connor and I want to share my La Petite Baleen story with you. I am the mother of four children, ages 14, 16, 18 and 20. I have a degree in elementary education, with a minor in early childhood education. Before I had children, I taught pre-school, first grade, ran children’s programs at a country club and ran children’s programs with the city of San Mateo.

When my first child was born, I decided to stay at home. By the time, my fourth child was born; I knew I needed to work. I brought my children to swim lessons at the Half Moon Bay La Petite Baleen and loved the toddler classes. Once I “graduated” from the pool, I would sit by the pool for many hours watching!

A certain staff member approached me every week about becoming a swim teacher. I insisted I could not do it and thanked her every week for thinking of me! This went on for months until I caved. I did want to start working and I do love children and I do love the water. Why not?

I was quickly put “into training” and found out I could do it and actually was pretty good! When my training ended, I took over one evening swim shift and one Saturday swim shift. What a perfect job, I realized. My children were home with Dad and I did not have to worry about childcare, dinner, or bedtime. I loved my shifts and all the kids I taught. Three and half hours away from my family was perfect and the paycheck was just what we needed. Teaching was very rewarding and seeing the weekly progress of the students was so worth the time.

As my children got older, and entered school, I then had daytime hours available. I took on a morning shift and was asked to add more hours as a “deck supervisor”. Once again, I was unsure but thought about how this was perfect! My kids didn’t need me as much and my work did! Wow, it turned out to be a great match for all of us.

And, as we all know, our children keep growing and need “less” of our time but more “money for sports, dances, clothes and activities”. I was really enjoying my job and now had even more time to work. I felt like I was making a difference in children’s lives and also felt like I was helping other staff members become better teachers. It was a very good fit for my family and my career. Much to my surprise, I was asked to become a part time site director of the Half Moon Bay School. It was an honor and I was ready for the challenge. I had my family supporting me every step of the way and I realized I really liked the balance of teaching and managing.

My job here continues to grow. I am the sole site director now as well as the manager of our booking staff and have been working here for 14 years. Forty hours a week does not seem like a lot at this point. I look back on the journey and realize how many people I have worked with and how many families I have met and seen grow throughout the years. The staff here is awesome and each day brings new challenges and rewards. I feel very fortunate to work on the coast and still have time to be there for my high schoolers. Three of my own children are now employed with us and there are even more “La Petite Baleen” stories to share at home. Just last night we laughed at my daughter’s story about her “all white class”! (white ribbons that is!)

I urge any Mom or Dad out there, who loves children, loves the water and loves making a difference in a child’s life, to pick up an application. We offer an excellent training program and are here to support you along the way to becoming an excellent teacher. We also often have office hours available, if you are afraid to make the plunge in the pool. My hope is you will read this and reconsider that “part time job”. La Petite Baleen may be the Match for you. It has certainly been a great match for me!

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