But let me back up just a smidge to the day before the test. My fellow traveler on this administrative journey also had to take this teeny, tiny, career altering test as well, so he and his wife and I decided we might as well all travel up together to save on gas and study, etcetera. We had made arrangements to stay at the University Guesthouse on the University of Utah Campus, adjacent to Fort Douglas.
Now, many of you know I have a navigational helper for my car - a Garmin. Now, up until this point my precious little electronic helper hasn't steered me too far wrong. That all changed on the evening of January 14, 2011. It was a dark and stormy night... (oops, wrong story...lol). My technological helpmate guided us to the entrance to the U of U campus... but that's where things went awry. We had no idea where to go once we got there, so we called and got the exact address and plugged it in to the Garmin... and ended up near a lovely field and gazebo.... but no hotel... so we called the Guesthouse and they told us that we were very close, just a couple of streets away. And then they laughingly told us that Garmin can't find them... (apparently they've had calls like ours before... I wonder if it was a BYU grad who designed the Garmin... lol). We finally found the hotel and went to check in... (They recommended the 3rd floor because there were young hockey players coming to stay and they figured it would be quieter up there.) As we were checking in the desk got another call - apparently someone else who had a Garmin... and they had to guide them to the hotel as well... funny, funny.
Once we checked in, we decided to get something to eat, so we went to a Village Inn not too far from where we were staying. When we got back to the Guesthouse, we studied for a couple of hours before turning in for the night.
In the morning we met downstairs to have a little breakfast before heading to the Bennion building to take our test. We met another member of our cohort and her husband who had stayed at the Guesthouse as well. We left my colleague's wife at the hotel and drove down to take our four hour test. The classmate we met followed us to the building because she wasn't sure how to get there. When we arrived, we met the fourth member of our cohort from our district who had stayed with family members the previous night. When we walked in the building there were people milling about all over and we thought that it was going to be a huge number in our classroom. Turns out that other tests were taking place at the same time, so there were only about fifteen or twenty taking our actual test - the School Leadership Licensure Assessment (SLLA). The proctor said that she actually didn't expect so many of us to show up. I thought to myself - WHAT???? I payed $400 to take the stupid test - why WOULDN'T I show up???? But she said they had registered 400 people before and only had 200 show up. WOW!
The test consisted of 100 multiple choice questions that we had 140 minutes to complete, and then 7 essay questions that we had 100 minutes to complete. The hard part about the test is that you really can't study a lot for it... its not like a math or english test that you can cram for. There is one practice test that gives you an idea of the general types of questions and situations you may face, but that's about it. Talk about nerve wracking! I did my best, but there was no way of knowing if my best was good enough. You don't receive your scores until four to six weeks later. Talk about STRESS!!
After the test my friend and I drove back to the Guesthouse to pick up his wife and take in some of the sights of Salt Lake. We had decided that we earned some relaxation time so we had planned to make a weekend of it and just return on Sunday, the day after the test. We walked across the Olympic Legacy Bridge and over to the TRAX station to go downtown and wander Temple Square.
It'd been several years since I had ridden TRAX so it was fun to do that again - not to mention it meant that I didn't have to drive in downtown traffic! (Always a bonus!) We wandered through Temple Square, going to the Assembly Hall and looking at the Salt Lake Temple. We met some friendly sister missionaries and had a good conversation with them before walking in the Tabernacle to listen to the All-State Choir and Orchestra rehearse. It was beautiful.
Then we visited the North Visitor's Center. Of course we had to walk up the ramp to see the beautiful and majestic Christus Statue. I never tire of seeing it. It gives you such a peaceful feeling.
After the North Visitor's Center we walked across the street to the Conference Center.
My friends had never taken a tour of the building, so we were introduced to a sweet older lady who took us through the building from bottom to top (except for the roof, which was closed 'til Spring.) It amazes me to walk in the auditorium and see how HUGE it is inside.
And to see it from three different vantage points is amazing. Then, of course, there are all the original paintings and sculptures inside and the beautiful water feature under the crystal art chandelier. We saw paintings by Arnold Friburg, Minvera Tiechart, and so many others.
When we got to a sculpture of the First Vision, the guide turned it around to show us the back, where Heavenly Father's arm is around Jesus' shoulder. She said, "It always touches me to see that detail. Isn't that just what a proud father would do when introducing his son?"
We then walked through the hall of the Prophets and saw the paintings and busts of each of the prophets. When we got to President Hinckley's bust, the guide said, "Notice that he isn't wearing glasses. He said that he wasn't going to need glasses where he was going, so he didn't want them on his bust." She chuckled at that and so did we. I could almost hear President Hinckley saying that.
We walked through the hall of the Apostles and saw all of their paintings as well. Then they showed a little video about how the roof looks in the Spring so they could see it, even though we couldn't go outside.
When the tour was over, we walked back to a TRAX station and headed back toward the University. We stopped to eat at Chili's... mmmmmmmmmm.... I'd never been there and it was delicious. We headed back to the Guesthouse to rest for a while, then got together to go get some pie at the Village Inn (because we were too full and too stressed for dessert the night before... lol). We each had our choice of pie... mmmmmmm... again. Then we went back to the hotel to visit and play Nerts (which I had only learned the week before from my friends.) I lost terribly, but it was fun. A funny incident happened on the way back from the Village Inn. I had saved the location of the Guesthouse into my navigation system and so I punched it on the way back to the hotel. I was just paying attention to the directions it was giving me and the conversation going on in the car, when my friend's wife started laughing... when I noticed where we were I laughed, too. It had taken us to the building where we took the test even though I had saved the other location and programmed it in. It seems that Garmins REALLY don't like the U! LOL
The next morning we gathered our stuff and checked out of the hotel to head back to Rio Verde. We stopped to visit the Olympic Cauldron Park before we headed out. We took a few pictures and then continued our journey home.
That was where we left it until today. The company that creates the SLLA test (and others) knows how desperate people are for their scores and "allows" you to find out by phone what your score is for the "nominal" fee of $30, a few days before they actually release the scores to the participants and their designated score recipients. I had vowed that I was not going to pay the $30. I would just wait until I received official word. I said it any time I was asked when I was going to find out my score. And that lasted... until about 1:15 pm today (February 11). I just couldn't stand the suspense, so I got forked over the money and found out my score. Wonder of wonders - I passed and by a decent margin. Needless to say, I was - and am - overjoyed! It takes a lot of stress off knowing that this is one less thing I need to worry about. Now all I have to do is survive my final two classes and I will have my degree! Yippeee! Woooohoooo! And HALLELUJAH!
On another note: My back, which had been giving me problems was relatively problem free during that testing weekend which was another huge blessing and answer to many prayers. And my loving family and in-laws prayed for me and put my name in Temples as well. I know I couldn't have done it without their love and support. While I still have twinges every now and then, it is soooo much better than it was in November and December and I know that is the result of many prayers as well.
(Special thanks to J and A for some of the pictures of our SLC trip - since my battery died part way through our adventure. :-) )