One Day,

I hope there would be more respect for what educators do…

Why did you decide to become a teacher?

I have always wanted to be a teacher and have had a passion to educate others for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I would play school with my dolls. I vividly remember one Christmas I asked for a blackboard and a whiteboard to enhance the classroom experience. As I traveled through high school, I had one teacher in particular that really affirmed that I would be excellent at this particular vocation. Sometimes all we need is one individual to encourage us, and this teacher did this for me.

What mentors or educators have impacted you along this journey?

My sophomore year of high school, I had a teacher who truly encouraged me to pursue education as a vocation. I looked up to this teacher. In addition, one of my biggest mentors was my very first job where I had the opportunity to teach art to children through Dots and Doodles. I learned an incredible amount through observation and through experience. Sometimes we just need someone to believe in our dreams and take a chance on us, and this experience did this for me. I continued to spend my summers honing my craft and learning in the art studio, and I became a more confident individual and educator because of this experience.

What inequalities do you see in Education?

There have been countless inequities that have been at play for decades. Unfortunately, a lot comes down to inequitable funding. If you cannot get the resources you need, it is going to negatively impact your ability to make a difference. I am glad that there was recent litigation in Pennsylvania to determine that the current funding situation was inequitable. Hopefully the new system will be enacted and allow schools who need the most resources to gain access to them. Inequalities also exist through systems that perpetuate poverty and racial politics. For this reason, I am not a huge fan of standardized testing. In many ways, it is political and incredibly divisive. I would highly recommend the book From the New Deal to the War on Schools which discusses a lot of the inequities we see within the education system.

Why are you passionate about this field?

Ultimately, I want to make a difference. Even if I make a difference in the life of one student, I would consider it a success. Being able to make a positive impact on an individual’s life and helping them on their journey is a priceless gift.

Have you had any poignant moments during this journey to becoming an educator?

I have had many humbling moments especially when entering into environments very different from the environment where I went to school. Those moments are very encouraging and they show how learning is constant for everyone. Growth occurs when we are receptive to reflection. In addition, my freshman year of college was a humbling moment for me. I almost switched my major after my first year of college. I am and have always been incredibly interested in Linguistics and so I thought about a Linguistics major with a Geology minor. I even thought about becoming a pediatric speech language pathologist. However, after working in the art studio during the summer, I realized that I wanted to be in the thick of it with a big group of kids. I felt the best when I was in a large group setting and so I decided to stick with my original choice. I will always be able to utilize what I learned in my early linguistics classes and apply that knowledge to the teaching world.

What would you like to see change in the world of education?

I believe there is a lot more background knowledge and training that is necessary to be able to teach. Despite what society thinks, you cannot just throw someone into a classroom and expect excellence. Not everyone can teach! You need to have a different thought pattern in order to be able to break things down, differentiate and lead effectively. Education is not as valued as it should be, and this is a shame.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hope is that this field would become more highly valued and that there would be more respect for what we do. Schools are microcosms for the world, and I wish there was more mutual respect and empathy in the world that would then trickle out into the classrooms as well. Within our schools there are so many people in so many different walks of life, and we need to get away from the fact that there is “one right way to be.” In some places it is changing but in other places the pendulum is swinging the other way. Sadly, the children are always the ones in the crossfire.

Are there any quotes you live by?

My freshman year I was struggling with finding identity and purpose, and I remember asking myself, “What is the point of all of this?” The answer I received was simply,

Just protect the children.

These words are currently the home screen on my phone but also the words I continue to live by when thinking about activism and teaching. Teaching content and curriculum is incredibly important, but there is a lot more that can be implied by the word “protect.” I hope to live by these words as I continue to grow and develop into the impactful educator I wish to be.