Educator/Accountant Years Fade to Black Poet/ Writer Takes Center Stage . . .

My professional career winds down to its finish.

And I am so ready to be fully retired with two pension annuities wiring me funds monthly till my last breath, one from the Texas Teachers Retirement System and the other from the United States Social Security Administration.

December 1973 I finished my undergraduate degree at Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas, earning a Bachelor of Science in Education with two secondary teaching fields, one in Chemistry and the other in English.  I had a minor in Mathematics to support the Chemistry studies.  My goal was to teach English after graduation.

The Chemistry teaching field was an accident resulting from having begun university with medical school in mind and taking Chemistry to support that goal.  The epiphany came when in a local Abilene clinic near Thanksgiving the third year into university studies.  Looking around me I came to the sudden stark realization that I did not like hospitals and I did not like being around sick people.  So, no medical studies for me, not ever.  Being the avid reader and lover of literature that I had been since fifth grade, English was the natural choice to replace the Chemistry.

Seeking my first teaching job in Dallas I asked for an English assignment.  But the astute folk in Human Resources at the school district actually looked through my university transcript.  They offered me a choice between two assignments.  I could teach junior high science at a campus in East Dallas, or I could teach mathematics at South Oak Cliff High School.  Apparently, English teachers were a dime a dozen, so to speak, and the math and science on my transcript was just too attractive. Math and science always needed teachers.

Hmmm.  Science or math?  I needed a job.  I opted for South Oak Cliff High School and taught there the spring semester of 1974 and all of the academic year 1974-1975.  Employed on an “emergency certificate” I needed an actual Mathematics Teaching Certificate, so I took a night class at Southern Methodist University in post-grad Geometry and an extension course from the University of Texas in post-grad Numerical Analysis the spring of 1974.

Interestingly enough I had grown up in Oak Cliff and South Oak Cliff High School had never been more than ten miles away from my home.  Growing up the high school had been all white in pre-desegregation days.  By my time teaching there the campus was all middle-class African American, as were most of my old neighborhoods.  I taught classes including Fundamentals of Mathematics, Honors Double Math (Algebra & Geometry), and regular Algebra.  I even taught one section of Chemistry.

While engaged to be married my fiancé said to me one day, “Since you meant to teach words all day and are teaching numbers, why don’t you get paid double the money to do numbers all day and become a Certified Public Accountant, like your Dad?”  How does one argue with that logic?  Especially with your soon-to-be-bride?  So I applied at Abilene Christian University to become a graduate student in their Masters of Business Administration program and also to teach math at Abilene High School.  They said yes.  So in June 1975 I was taking classes at ACU and preparing to teach math at Abilene High School.

Three years later in June 1978 I had earned my MBA and completed three years of teaching math at Abilene High School.  I took the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination over two and one-half days in May that year learning later in August that I had passed all four parts of the exam, which only one in ten candidates ever accomplish.  Go me!

I spent the spring of 1978 applying for accounting jobs at the big eight CPA firms.  On July 10, 1978, I began work as a staff accountant at Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co. CPAs (now KPMG) in their Dallas office.  After one year’s experience with them I was awarded my CPA certificate by the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy.  I was a BSED, MBA, CPA at age twenty-seven and working for one of the largest international accounting firms on planet Earth.

My first year at Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, CPAs found me on the audit trail at clients as part of the auditing staff.  And it was then in my professional career that I began to track my time in half-hour increments.  The firm needed that tracking in order to bill the clients for my time.  After a year I moved to the Private Business Advisory services department where we assisted clients with all their accounting and tax needs.  After four years in that department, my bride suggested I request a transfer to their Midland office, in her home city.  I was accepted as a transferee to the tax department in the Midland office.  So by October 1982 we were relocated to Midland, Texas.  At the firm I became a Tax Supervisor one step below Tax Manager.

At CPA firms promotion movement is up and then out.  In November 1984 the firm suggested I look for new employment and pointed me in the direction of Jack Walcher at Eddins-Walcher Company whose Financial Vice President, Lloyd Sanders, was retiring.  On December 3, 1984, I became the Financial Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and a member of the Board of Directors for Eddins-Walcher Company in Midland, Texas.  The money was excellent at $55,000 annually after only $36,000 my last year with the CPA firm.  By comparison my first full year at South Oak Cliff ten years prior had only been $7,000.

From late 1984 onward I handled all the financial accounting, tax accounting, employee benefits, legal, and casualty insurance matters for Eddins-Walcher Company.  By the year 2000 I had moved up to $102,000 in annual salary.  In 2001 we sold the private company to Tom Kelly who renamed the company United Fuels, Incorporated.  I pocketed $55,000 for my stock investment at the time.  Not long after the sale, the new owners reduced our salaries by twenty percent.  These things happen, but hey, I was still on the payroll.

Tom Kelly brought in Andy Rowe, CPA, as his Chief Financial Officer and I took the second accounting chair remaining the Secretary and Treasurer.  For the next five years Andy Rowe and I spearheaded getting United Fuels ready for an Initial Public Offering of stock which we accomplished in March of 2005.

In January 2002 I renegotiated my annual salary with the then President downward $15,000 a year in order to reduce my obligation to be at work from my average 55 hours weekly to 40 hours per week.  I could leave now at 5:00 p.m. no questions asked each weekday.  Looking ahead I had decided to remain with United Fuels until the company was taken public.  In the meantime I planned to study English for a Master of Arts degree at The University of Texas at the Permian Basin in preparation for a return to my earlier career as an Educator.  The salary renegotiation was a needed step in going back to graduate school nights.  December 2004 I was awarded that MA in English by UTPB.

With United Fuels a publicly-held company later in the spring, I began my job search and landed a one-year contract as an English Instructor at Abilene Christian University.  In August 2005 I resigned my position at United Fuels and began my year at ACU commuting from Midland on early Monday mornings returning on Thursday evenings after my last class for the week.  That was a glorious year teaching English full-time at Abilene Christian University, the highlight of my professional career that you are reading about here.  ACU had been looking to hire two new PHDs to teach English and during that search hired myself and two others with MAs.  They later found the PHDs and our one-year contracts became exactly that, one-year.  But what a year it was!  Many cool campus events happened as that was the Centennial Year for ACU, their having been founded in 1906.

My first marriage of twenty-seven years had ended in summer 2002.  My second bride and I found each other on eHarmony.com and married summer 2005 as I began my weekly commute to ACU.  As the year at ACU wound down I found replacement employment at Midland Freshman High School.  Promised an English assignment my second year there, I took on Integrated Physics and Chemistry that first year.  Then taught freshmen English four years thereafter.

Spring 2011 Midland High School principal Jeff Horner emailed to ask if I would take on Chemistry at the high school for one year with a promise of English thereafter.  I made the move and taught sophomores some Chemistry.  Then I taught seniors English IV Advanced Placement and Dual College Credit which is British Literature, my favorite.  Sadly, Horner was promoted to Central Office and his replacement reassigned me back to Chemistry students after that great year teaching British Literature.  After two years of teaching Chemistry again, I had had enough.

I found an English job teaching eighth-graders at Bowie Middle School in Odessa, Texas.  Good year.  But then the principal moved me to sixth-grade English.

Ever heard of the business management principle the “Peter Principle”?   In the business world staff are promoted and promoted and promoted until promoted to their level of incompetence.  Then no one promotes them anymore because they are not doing as well as before.  The logical thing to do at that point is let them keep their salary level and demote them one level back to where they were really, really competent.  At least that was the advice given in the book the Peter Principle.

I had been promoted, so to speak, to my level of incompetence when assigned sixth grade students.  Everything I knew about teaching seemed to no longer work with them, likely due to their maturity level, their being new to a middle school campus right out of elementary.  So, I resigned my position at the end of the fall semester and retired.  Yes, retired.  Texas Teacher Retirement and the Social Security Administration began wiring me my annuity payment each month.  The Ector County School District had to find another teacher for those sixth-graders for the spring semester.

Roll the clock forward to August 2017.  One Friday the local newspaper headlined an article that Midland ISD needed fewer teachers to start a school year than usual, but the ones they needed were in the field of English and Mathematics.  Well now, I checked the vacancies online and there was an English vacancy at Lee High School one mile from my front door.  I applied, was hired and taught sophomores the fall term.  Due to a senior teacher’s husband being transferred to Austin, I was reassigned seniors for the spring term.  British Literature again, hooray!

And so I now near the end of my time with the seniors as they graduate on June 2 in eighteen days.  And I will be done.  Retired, this time for good.  I did NOT sign a new contract to teach next year.

So in summary here is how it all went down for the 45 professional years (chart adds to 46 years due to rounding):

Professional Employer Years Description
South Oak Cliff High School

2

Mathematics
Abilene High School

3

Mathematics
Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co. CPAs

5

Audit/Private Business Advisory Services  [Dallas office]
Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co. CPAs

2

Taxes  [Midland office]
Eddins-Walcher Company

16

Financial VP, Secretary, Treasurer, Director
United Fuels, Incorporated

5

Accountant, Secretary, Treasurer
Abilene Christian University

1

English (freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior levels)
Midland Freshman High School

5

English I (4); Integrated Physics and Chemistry (1)
Midland High School

1

English IV Advanced Placement Dual Credit
Midland High School

3

Chemistry
Bowie Middle School

2

English 8 and English 6
Lee High School

1

English II and English IV

And with eighteen days remaining till my seniors walk the stage at Chaparral Center, I clearly see light at the end of this tunnel.  And now you know far more than you ever wanted to know about my professional career.

As for the future in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, I shall pursue continuation of my self-employment career as a serious Poet and Writer.  Not that I have been paid any money ever for any of the creative works on my Publication History.  But some day someone might pay me a royalty or book advance.  Publish me, I say to the world.  And I mean it.  PUBLISH ME!

Oh well, enough of all this.  Cheerio until next time.

 

 

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