My classroom is empty, and my time here has come to an end. Ten years…so much can transpire.
I started teaching Business Education classes to students at a small-medium sized campus ten years ago, and have taught in the same school every year since. Throughout that time, I’ve learned many lessons, experienced heartache, grown as a person and a professional, and ultimately realized what I already knew… what a blessing young people can be.
Before becoming a “Teacher”, I spent several years as a Corporate Trainer in the Financial Services industry, where I enjoyed the rewards of successfully preparing individuals for their new positions by providing accurate guidance, current policies, and user-friendly procedures. During that same time, I was also given the opportunity to volunteer with an organization dedicated to empowering victims of domestic violence with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the workplace. This opened my eyes to the gift of knowledge, and the blessing of sharing useful tools and skills with individuals who have a need to succeed, and a burning desire to learn.
After several mergers took place in banking, and my daughter was born, I was searching for my next direction. My nephew had graduated high school, yet needed a little help with the math portion of the ASVAB (military entrance exam). I was able to help him find the piece that kept him from succeeding in math (huge red flag: how did he ever make it to graduation without knowing this KEY piece of math???), and he was then able to enlist and serve our country as he’d intended. This was the first time I thought, “wouldn’t that be great to help others in the same way?”
Soon after that, I ran into my middle school G/T teacher at the store; she was the director of the local community college’s alternative certification program for teachers. Would I be interested…? The rest, as they say, is history.
Now, ten years later, I’m leaving the school where my teaching journey began. So much has changed. My teenager was a toddler. I was a single Mom. I was inspired and energetic, yet had so much to learn. I believed that most kids were raised by parents who cared. I thought that being clean, having a few sets of presentable clothing, bringing school supplies, and having enough food to eat were things all kids could expect. I also assumed that most parents had what it took to provide proper support to kids struggling with mental health issues. Wrong! Anxiety and depression are more prevalent now than when I started teaching for so many reasons (technology, drug abuse, broken homes, underdeveloped communication skills), and those conditions do not discriminate, nor limit themselves to financially struggling families.
Before becoming a teacher, I truly believed the worst things one should be concerned about for their children were alcohol, drugs, and pregnancy. So naive. In my classroom, where I create a safe space, I have heard stories that would break your heart while blowing your mind. Stories of emotional neglect, immense pressure to be perfect, kids taking care of parents instead of the way it “should” be. And it’s not what you think…it’s not kids from a certain background, socioeconomic status, etc.. The stories come from students of all walks of life.
It has always been my goal to remind those who endure the most challenges that the struggles they face now are giving them a leg up on their future. The peers surrounding them who have not struggled don’t know what it means to be grateful for the littlest things…like your teacher having snacks so your stomach won’t growl, or someone greeting you with a warm “hello” every day, or feeling warm because there’s no heat on, or just being able to be silly because everyone at your home is always angry or fighting. The fact that these kids show up every day in spite of their situations outside of school is a feat many of us can not identify with. Yet, the resilience they show beats that of most adults I know. Like I said, teenagers are awesome!
So, I’m closing a chapter on a ten year run where I’ve taught ten different classes, served as a sponsor for a couple of organizations, assisted my peers with technology, and met some of the most amazing young people you will ever meet. I’ve made some forever friends, fought cancer, met (the teacher across the hall) and married the love of my life, and had final reconstruction surgery after breast cancer. I am beyond thankful for the love and support shown to me during what was undoubtedly the most challenging time of my life thus far.
Now, it’s time for me to begin a new chapter. Starting in the Fall, I’ll be teaching at a small charter school. I’m so excited for the opportunity to work in a smaller setting, closer to home, and have more time available for my precious family. I’ll be taking on some new roles, and I’m thankful to be in a good place (mentally and physically), ready to learn and grow.
Change can be difficult, and going into the unknown is a big leap. But my soul is certain of a few things. 1) Kids are awesome, and I believe in the power of education! 2) A change of environment is just what I need to rejuvenate my passion for teaching. 3) I would have never been prepared for the task in front of me without experiencing all of the lessons learned over the last ten years. 4) As my daughter enters her teen years, she needs more of me than ever before. While there are many unknowns ahead of me, I have faith that God has given me an opportunity to reprioritize and recognize the most important pieces of my life’s puzzle, and provided a new path where these can stay at the center of my focus. Since battling cancer, nothing could be clearer to me than the fact that our souls MUST be in alignment with our true purpose and that God makes a way for that to happen, usually when we least expect it.
So, I’m asking for your prayers as I embark upon a new journey. I hope to rekindle the flames of inspiration I felt as a new teacher while keeping the wisdom of experience at the forefront of my mind. Life is filled with so many challenges and obstacles, especially for young people. My deepest passion is empowering students with the tools necessary to achieve a happy, fulfilled life. I have no doubt that I’m headed in the right direction, and can’t wait to meet the next group that I’ll sincerely refer to as “my kids”.
May you all find the thing that sets your soul on fire, and be relentless in pursuit of whatever that may be. This is the only way to a life that’s peaceful ahead.
Blessings to all,