How I Became A Teacher’s Assistant

I, (Kevin), really don’t know how. That title is clearly click bait. Sorry to get you here on such standards but that’s how I roll. What I will convey in this post is my adventure to becoming a teacher’s assistant.

When we were living in Clarksville, I was trying to decide what I would do for a job when we moved back home. I looked for a job coach position locally but what I found didn’t pan out. Although a local Vocational Rehab does work with job coaches, the counselor I would have worked for only worked with people with blindness or deafness. I had never worked with those disabilities so I felt I needed to look further for something else.

One day, I was reading my Facebook feed where the local newspaper reported a substitute teacher was found stapling kids arms with a stapler. My first though was I can do that. I didn’t necessarily think I could staple kids but that I could substitute teach.

When we moved, I attended substitute teacher training and immediately began subbing. I still remember my first class. I walked in with absolutely no clue. I stood before the kids and said, “Congratulations. You guys are seeing history in the making. This is my first ever attempt at substitute teaching. You will forever remember this day.” Ironically, some of those kids still do and remind me of it. I still see many of the kids I taught when I’m out in town and I am continually greeted, “Hey, Mr. Riner. You’re my favorite sub.”

Summer came and I wonder what to do for the summer. I had to go to the Board of Education (for something I don’t remember) and saw all the job postings for the many teachers they were hiring for the 2015-2016 school year. I decided it was a lost cause but a lost cause I was willing to look for so I applied for two positions, a teacher’s assistant and office position.

They called me for my first interview and I thought it went well. There was only four questions but I batted above average. However there were about forty interviews that day. She told me there would be a second interview if they were interested. This is also where I found out I would need to take the para-professional exam. I had heard of that exam. Dear Lord, I had heard of that exam. Nothing good, I was told, comes from that exam.

They have to go into the bowels of the Board building where spiders with wings and fangs the size of medieval swords reside, open a creaky chest, knock the dust off an age briefcase, return through the halls lined with all Board employees with gaping jaws, bring the briefcase to the room while everyone floods in to watch in amazement and fear. They then take a key from the locked filing cabinet, unlock the briefcase, pull a file from the inner pocket and gently lay it on the table as all the employees back away in fear of its opening. Here I am left alone with only my #2 pencil, scratch paper, a bottle of water and my fear of what I may find in this exam.

Something like that!

I left hoping I would get a second interview but scared of the test that loomed over me as some ferocious cookie monster and I was a girl scout on its front porch.

Two weeks later I received a call for a second interview from the principle at Lewisburg Middle School. I was a little giddy. When he told me he wanted to interview me I immediately shouted, “SWEET!” That was a little unprofessional.

My second interview was such a great interview. I should know. I grilled my clients for three years on how to conduct a proper interview and be a great interviewee. I felt like I knocked it out of the park however there were two things that were still looming for me. The TEST and they had quite a list of people to interview for that one spot. I don’t have a degree nor teaching experience so why would they hire me? There were sure to be many many others who were far more qualified than I.

I didn’t hear anything for a while.










Then the phone rang while I was working with my brother-in-law. The voice on the phone said she needed me to come in and sign some papers at the Board of Education. I asked her what kind of papers. She asked me if I haven’t heard. I asked her what haven’t I heard. She said that I had gotten the Teacher’s Assistant job. She asked if anyone had told me and I responded by informing her that was the first I had heard about it.

I got the job! How did that happen?

Oh Crap!!!! I gotta take THAT test.

I went in to fill out the paperwork and was given a study book for the test. I went home, looked over the book and decided to take the practice test in the back. I missed four. FOUR!!!

After our trip to St. Louis (we’ll write about that soon), I called to schedule my test for the next day. Before the test, I took the practice test again and missed one. Let’s do this!

I walked in to the Board, waited patiently (well, maybe not that patiently) until they called my name to come back. Take everything off your desk and shut your phone off.  Those words sounded so familiar because I had said those very words so many times substituting.

An hour and a half later, I hit the END  button and my score came up on the screen.


She look at me and said, “Congratulations, a near perfect score.” I had missed four questions. Mostly in math which I expected that.

And here we are, about to start the new school season and I will be working full-time at the middle school. How did that happen?

God! Only He could qualify me enough in the eyes of those who had the power to hire. Only He could help me pass a test that robust. Only He could sustain me through the process and bless me with such an opportunity.

Thanks for reading all this. That’s all I have to say about that!


About Kevin Riner

child of grace, worshiper of Jesus, husband, father, Pastor of Village Church, author of Faith Debugged
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