ELP teacher leaving teaching to spend more time with her one-year-old son

Karen Newcomb, Holmes Junior High ELP teacher, is done teetering over what she wants to do. She has made up her mind and is confident in her choice to be a full-time stay at home mom.

Her son, Elijah, will be turning two in June, and Newcomb knows how fast those early years fly by. Although her decision was a tough one to make, she is very much looking forward to her years as a full-time mom.

“It definitely feels bittersweet to be leaving. I truly do love my job, and I care an awful lot about the students I work with and the services we provide. At the same time, I also don’t want any more years of Elijah’s young life to go by without me being there to enjoy it along with him. I don’t want him to look back as he gets older and feel like his mom wasn’t very involved in taking care of him, so even though leaving is hard, I’m really excited to be able to spend much more time with my family,” Newcomb said.

Newcomb was really concerned about when a good time would be to make her jump into a new career. “The first year, I really waited too long to make a decision. Then when exploring the possibility of taking a one-year leave-of-absence, rather than resigning entirely, I was told that the district would not hire a full-year replacement due to health insurance laws, so my students would actually end up having to have two different subs for the year.  I did not feel comfortable putting my students in that situation, and it was also too late to resign and leave the district with much chance of finding a high-quality replacement, so I opted to return in the fall after Elijah was born,” Newcomb said.

The next year was even harder for Newcomb to make the change. “The next year, my colleague at Peet left the TAG position to take a teacher leadership position as an instructional coach, and it didn’t seem like a good idea for the TAG teachers at both junior highs to change in the same year, so I returned again,” Newcomb said. She also said that this year has been very overwhelming in her position. “I also continue to feel really overstretched by trying to balance all the extra hours that I spend on my job beyond the 7:30-3:30 contract day with the time to be a mom,” Newcomb said.

Newcomb said that her son needs her more than ever now as he’s getting older and starting to understand the world more and more. “Elijah is so much more aware now of who’s playing with him and who’s too busy doing work-related stuff all the time, so I really started thinking seriously about a change very early in the school year this year, and as the year went on, I became more and more sure that resigning and becoming a full-time mom was the right decision,” Newcomb said.

It’s been a rocky road for Newcomb with a lot to consider in making her choice. “I have definitely had many ‘back and forth’ moments. It’s hard to leave a job I care so much about. I also wonder if I’ll feel as personally fulfilled while not having a professional career. Money is always a factor too. Will we have enough money on just my husband’s salary in order to be comfortable and happy? There are some changes we’ll need to make to our lifestyle to make things work, fewer trips/vacations, less eating out, etc., so, yes, there are some things that worry me, but I’m also really excited to spend more time being a mom,” Newcomb said.

Newcomb said she always knew deep down that she wanted to be a full-time mom. “For several years before Elijah was born, before I was married even, I assumed I’d stay home when I had kids. I didn’t know how people could leave their babies all day to go to work if they didn’t have to, but then my career and my students were also an important part of my life, and there were those other factors too. I’m not discounting parents who choose to work, though, either. I completely understand that there are people who are better moms precisely because they have time to be professionals too, but in the end, for me, it’s time to be a full-time mom,” Newcomb said.

Although Newcomb is looking forward to her transition into a full-time mom, she will definitely miss all the students and staff that have made her teaching experience so memorable. “The thing I’ll miss the most is the day-to-day interactions with my students and colleagues. I’ll miss helping students get the opportunities they need to suit their abilities, and I’ll miss providing the services I can and helping other teachers provide them as well,” Newcomb said.

Being an ELP teacher is who Newcomb is. She lives and breathes her program at Holmes and wants to make sure her replacement does the same. “As I explained to my students when I announced my resignation, I was a student of the Cedar Falls TAG program back in the 1990s and early 2000s. It was an essential component of my own education, and I wouldn’t be who I am today without it. This isn’t just a job to me; this is who I am to my very core, and that’s not an easy thing to leave. That said, I know that there will be a high-quality replacement to take my position, and gifted students will continue to get the education they need, both from their TAG teacher and from their other teachers. It’s just a strange feeling to know that I won’t be the one to provide the TAG services and that someone else will be in ‘my’ classroom,” Newcomb said.

Newcomb is looking forward to every aspect of being a full-time mom, except ,of course, the constant messes and dirty diapers. “I’ve been saving baby and toddler and preschool ideas on Pinterest for a long while now, but I don’t currently have the time to do any of them. Our daycare provider has been absolutely wonderful for Elijah (helping him learn, be active, etc.), but I’m excited to be able to do more of that myself. I also want to be able to take Elijah out to events and activities around town during the day. I want to connect more with other moms, and I want to have time on the evenings and weekends to be a mom and wife, rather than always working on school work,” Newcomb said.

Newcomb is confident in her decision to resign next year and take on a new career and be a full-time mom. The journey was a long one filled with tough decisions along the way, but she will be very happy in her new job with her son.

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