With the start of a new school year, it is always a good time to reflect upon the reason that I initially became an educator and the reasons I continue to stay in this exhilarating profession!
Unlike many of my colleagues who knew that they wanted to become teachers at a young age and played school endlessly as a child, I was quite unsure what my future held for me up until my 2nd year in college. I had eliminated my first inclination of majoring in business after a few accounting and economic classes that failed to peak my interest. I always wanted to be a journalist and had enough English credits in two years of college to move forward in that direction; but I was persuaded by many that journalism jobs were a rarity and I would be working for minimum wage in retail for the rest of my life. A degree in political science or sociology also peaked my interest, but once again; it was communicated strongly that life after college with either of those desired degrees would be a life of unemployment or I would need to marry a very rich husband. Because I had failed life's course of how to marry well, I knew I needed to figure things out quickly.
With the worry that I may never determine what lifelong occupation I wanted to partake in for the next 40 years of my life (which is really a lot to ask of any 19-year-old), I scheduled an appointment with a career counselor during my second year of college. When she forced me to pinpoint the things in my life that I loved the most; athletics, spending time with my family, working with others, leadership, helping people, and even spending time with my nieces and nephews; it seemed eminent that a degree in education was the direction to go.
From the first education course to the last, I knew without a doubt I wanted to teach children and coach young athletes. My journey to become a teacher was just as exciting as the years I have spent in the classroom. In all actuality, the road to becoming an educator is different for every teacher, principal and superintendent. A career in education is like an interchanging highway of paths; some possessing more difficult turns and exits; others emulating a smooth weekend road trip through green hills and pastures.
My first teaching position was at a Catholic school in Carroll, Iowa in which I taught 5th grade and coached basketball and volleyball. The next leg of my journey led me west to Geneva, Nebraska where I taught 3rd and 6th grade and once again assumed the coaching duties of basketball and volleyball. My teaching journey was about to take a path far south to Dallas, Texas. I loved teaching in small Midwestern communities similar to the ones I grew up in; but I was in search of more and I knew I had a calling.
I simply needed more of a challenge than what I already knew and therefore; I became an inner city teacher for Dallas ISD for the next 14 years of my life in which I taught 4th Grade ESL ,5th grade, and 6th grade ESL as well as spending several years as a Talented and Gifted teacher and two years as a Gifted Coordinator for the district. Midway through those years I moved drastically north to a suburb of Dallas which forced me to take a different position in McKinney, Texas. It simply wasn't geographically possible to continue to work in south Dallas. I called it my "year's sabbatical from the inner city" where I taught in a 5th grade gifted cluster classroom. Within one year of teaching in the suburbs, I knew that my heart belonged back in the inner city where students needed me as much as I needed them and and I headed back to north Dallas to work with students once again who were from struggling socioeconomic areas; but still full of high aspirations and dreams.
After fifteen years in the large metropolis of Dallas I found my way further south to Austin, Texas. My first position was with Pflugerville ISD in a 5th grade gifted cluster classroom before I eventually moved on to Round Rock ISD and became a Talented and Gifted Specialist.
I reflect on of my journey in education with pride and esteem. I'm sure I have touched the lives of thousands of children, I have developed relationships of respect and admiration of young individuals from many backgrounds who have taught me more about myself than I ever could have acquired from a career in economics or accounting. There have been bumps in the road as the financial rewards were minimal which many times led to a certain amount of stress in life that forced me to question my career choice. I've dealt with a number of parents over the years who have caused a negligible amount of headaches as well as administrators for that matter; but I wouldn't change any direction in the path I chose. Had I started my career in one position and continued in that same assignment for decades I highly doubt that I would have the knowledge base I have today to teach children and guide adults.
Teaching has provided an outlet for my creativity, a way to fulfill my desire to write by developing an abundance of creative lesson plans that have touched the lives of many; but more importantly because of my career I have built relationships. My career in education has followed me through raising a child as a single parent, divorce, marriage and the deaths of loved ones. No matter the stress or tribulation I was dealing with at the time, the one steady thing that I could rely on the most was that I could walk in a school building and children's eyes would light up when they saw me; no expectations, just because they loved me and they knew that I Ioved them. What more could anyone ask for?
As I begin blogging this year my goal is that I will be able to add inspiration and ideas that will add ease to your school year. I hope that this year your education journey is challenging and invigorating and when you walk in that door every morning you will feel as blessed as I do that your students are waiting for you with the excitement and anticipation of a new day.