YES: Go East!

Telling your kids “Hey guys! We’re moving this summer, but I don’t know where!” is really sucky. Not only did I not know where- I didn’t even know to which state we’d be headed. This is unnerving for all parties, but its especially untenable for a child with autism— and his mama who is trying to calm him and assure him while we cannot take his swing-set, there will be good things on the other end of the interstate move. (could he feel my fear? my uncertainty? probably)

It all hinged on what school (if any— I mean, I thought someone would take me- but still…) sent me that “yes”. Well, I got my yes. George Washington University in Washington DC has invited me to join them for the fall semester 2012, where I will begin working towards my M.Ed with a focus in Autism Spectrum Disorders.  In June, after I graduate here, we’re packing up and heading to Washington DC. This California girl, after nine years in the Evergreen State, is heading east!

I’m ecstatic! The month of February has held my very lowest, darkest low, and within a week, it gave me unimaginable grace. Then, on top of what felt like nothing short of a stack of miracles, I got my acceptance letter from GW. I know this is not going to be easy, and there are a million details of which I don’t yet have answers. But if the last few weeks have taught me anything, it’s that it will work out, and the path will be made clear. Hard work is ahead, to be sure- but I’m ready and along with the work comes a great new adventure, excitement, joy and a whole new happy start. It’s about damn time!

Besides, can you imagine how much fun it’s going to be trying to find Bean in the Smithsonian?!

38 thoughts on “YES: Go East!

  1. Hee! That last line is especially great. I’m so, so happy for you about this! What an exciting new adventure! It makes me want to move, too, just to find someplace new. Woohoo! You’re going to grad school!

  2. Having lived in that area of 9 years, there are plenty of nice suburbs. Just find an area that supports an easy commute.We lived on the VA side.

  3. Wonderful news! College and grad school are such a good excuses to live in areas you might not otherwise. Enjoy your time there! There’s so much to see.

  4. The DC area is really a lot of fun. I’ve lived here for only almost 4 years, but I absolutely love the place. I live in DC itself, and though I encourage most people to live in the city (it rocks!), because you have older kids, I’d say stick with the suburbs. DC has a handful of good/decent schools, but you’ve already got so much on your plate without having to add in the fight to find (and get in) a good one in the midst of so many bad ones. The suburbs will add to your commute but simplify school issues for the kids. Also, I’d recommend avoiding Prince Georges County for the same reason.

    Your kids will love DC, though. The free Smithsonian museums will enchant them (and the other museums, but free is always good :-)), and the monuments and memorials are just cool.

  5. Congrats! I grew up in NoVa and lived there & in Columbia, MD for about 8 years after college. Love it and miss it.

    FWIW, Howard County MD has stellar autism resources in their public schools. Not a great commute to GW, though.

    Good luck!

  6. Hooray for you and your family! What an exciting adventure awaits! I can hardly wait to read about your next chapter.

  7. I grew up in the LA area and almost 24 years ago moved to Boston — sight unseen. It was one of the best decisions of my life. You’re got lots of exciting things to look forward to! The east coast rocks!

  8. Congrats! The details will fall in line, and your online support group is going to help point you in the right direction for schools and commutes and everything else. Don’t forget to contact your new bishop for that type of help, as well. Your safety net is intact, Tracy, and your miracles are amazing.

    The light comes after the darkness…

  9. George Washington University!! Congrats! I am SO excited for you – and, yeah, Bean and the Smithsonian . . . what a perfect match.

  10. I am so excited for you…so very, very happy!
    I loved our time in DC (we lived in Alexandria VA).
    And I enjoy visiting when John has training…in fact we will be there in July!
    Continue to trust that the path will work out. It always does, even when it doesn’t feel like it will.
    Happy news…
    Love you!

  11. Umm I’ve never commented before, but . . . Congratulations!!
    I live in Alexandria, VA and if you need any help figuring out a place to live, please email me. I’d be happy to put you in contact with bishops, other members, or give you some pointers on family-friendly and commute-friendly neighborhoods. We love DC! It’s such an amazing place to live.

  12. That moment when you open the envelope and it is a grad school giving you the equivalent of Uncle Sam’s “We want YOU!” – that is an incredible feeling. What a great opportunity for you family. I love fresh starts and new places. You deserve everything good. Congratulations!

  13. Oh Tracy, I am SO happy for you! Many congrats. I am sure it will be positive all around and such a nice opportunity to start fresh. You deserve this chance and I am rooting for you!

  14. Congrats, Tracy! The world needs more dedicated and wonderful autism educators! We have lived in the DC area (Reston in Fairfax County) for six years and love it! If you need any help with autism resources & schools, etc. I am happy to help ( The school systems in Northern Virginia and Maryland are truly fabulous. Museums on the weekends are hours of free entertainment. The wards, at least in NoVA, tend to be large and a bit transitory, but friendly. DC can be great, too….but honestly I have heard horror stories about their special education, which may or may not reflect reality. We would have loved to live in the city, but chose to go where the best autism services and support were for our child on the spectrum.

  15. Congratulations and welcome to GW! I actually live in Michigan now (working on my dissertation from here) but let me know if you have any questions about GSEHD or ridiculous GW bureaucracy or DC in general. I’m thrilled for you!

    There are some great schools in the area (Fairfax County, VA and Montgomery County, MD) and you’ve got some excellent professors in the SPED program who could direct you to the best schools for Autism in the area. I would also recommend that you get in touch with your program director and ask to be placed on their listserv ASAP (I’m assuming SPED has a listserv) for info on local jobs, internships, research and funding opportunities.

    Best of luck to you in your new adventure!

  16. Congratulations on your acceptance! Truly an achievement to be proud of. I do have a question that I am very afraid to ask, and am surprised that no one else has asked. I understand that you want to continue your education, but is the master’s necessary for you to get a job now? It seems like it would be a huge relief to get paid for a while, get your financial house on less shaky ground, and then go to grad school on your employer’s (taxpayer’s) dime. All of the teachers I know have gotten their masters’ this way, a course at a time, paid for by the school district.

  17. Yes, its necessary. My bachelor’s degree is not a teaching degree and does not come with any kind of certification. Certification required an additional year, and if I’m putting in that year, it’s going to be towards my Masters. If I were to quit now, I’d have to get a regular job, and would probably never get back into school.

    And that regular job would be a low level, non secure position that would still have me and the kids below the poverty line, and still on foodstamps. Kind of defeats the purpose of the hard work I’ve already put in.

    Longterm, while hard, this is the best way for me to guarantee security, GOOD employment and the ability to support me and my kids for the rest of our lives. That extra year is a small price to pay.

  18. Also, when we get to DC, I will be working, probably close to fulltime, in a filler job so I can take care of us while I go to grad school. My kids will be in school all day in the fall, and I won’t be strapped with daycare costs on top of everything else.

    Just in case I needed to provide more bona fides that I’m not looking for a free ride.

    • “Just in case I needed to provide more bona fides…”

      That’s why I was afraid to ask. I really just wanted to know. You have such a great writing talent and are a truly inspiring person – I’m sure that you will have nothing but success in grad school.

      • You have to understand how many passive-aggressive comments I’ve had over people questioning my ability to make sound judgements for myself. I should not have to prove to anyone curious that I’ve thought this out, and am making a well-informed decisions. Yet, because I am poor, many people feel they have the right to ask that. It’s not necessarily what you were doing, but it’s close enough that you got my defenses up.

        Also, making a comment anonymously is seldom well received- at any blog- especially when questioning someone’s motives. It’s a legitimate question, but its also a personal one, and one that I would hope my integrity has already spoke towards and answered.

        It will always go over better, if you want to ask such a personal question, to not hide behind anonymity.

  19. I was under the impression that you were graduating with a special- Ed teaching degree. I kept reading all the comments and your prior posts trying to figure out why you weren’t taking the easier road of teaching job and grad school paid for by your employer ( which is not an easy road, but according to my many teaching friends, very manageable). It is because I have respect for your ability to make sound decisions that that puzzled me. Maybe I should not have asked such a personal question. I forgot that although you share many intimate details of your life and thoughts on this blog, we are not really intimate friends, and perhaps I had no right to ask that question.

    As for the anon thing – well I’m certainly not coming out now that I’ve got you mad at me!

  20. I would dearly love to be able to take a teaching job right now, and have someone else pay for grad school. Dearly. Not an option open to me.

    Also, I’m certain I wrote about my university doing away with the Special Ed program. I couldn’t have done the extra year here even if I wanted to. Rock, meet hard place.

  21. I think you are making a pretty fabulous decision moving to the DC area. Although it is more expensive to live here than many other places, you will certainly have a job waiting for you after you finish your grad program (if you decide to stay in the DC area). We have been lucky around here over the past few years to see little of the recession and have not felt the school cutbacks nearly as much. Every year Fairfax County schools actively recruit autism teachers and SLPs, some years offering them signing bonuses. Although not perfect, it is a good place to be in many, many ways.

  22. I, too, moved from Washington state to Washington, D.C., but I was 19 and alone. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I became an adult in D.C., and gained a new appreciation for history as I watched it unfold. I was stopped in traffic numerous times by the President’s motorcade. I was there for 9/11 and the D.C. sniper. I saw the scaffolding around the Washington Monument as they did repairs. I visited all of the Smithsonian museums numerous times. I got to tour the FBI, back when you could actually do that. I watched the 4th of July fireworks from the National Mall and saw the lighting of the National Christmas Tree, and I did a thousand other things.
    I am sure you will be busy studying and being a mom, but when you have time, there are so many things you can do with your children that will teach you all more than a book ever could. I hope your experiences were as amazing as mine.

    However, the humidity is a killer. 🙂

  23. I haven’t checked your blog in a while, it was wonderful to see that you’re going to grad school! Congratulations! It seems like you won’t have a moment to bask in the glory of graduating before you’re off on this next adventure.

    Honestly, seeing you take on grad school and a cross country move gave me the kick in the pants I needed to say that I want to go also. Your example in being brave to claim a good life for yourself and your children is something I appreciate!

    Head up, plow through those finals, you can do this!

  24. I’m thrilled for you!! Congratulations on your acceptance to GWU. Earlier this year I got my acceptance to JMU, so I’m uprooting my family to move to VA this summer as well.

  25. Congratulations!! Marta Silver lives in Maryland, next door to DC. She’s a doll, maybe you guys can get together :).

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