Monday, May 9, 2016

Why Teach?

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of becoming many things- veterinarian, interior designer, artist, writer. But, most of all I wanted to teach. I would play "teacher" with my brothers as often as possible, using the back of my faux wood bedroom door as a chalkboard. As I entered high school, other things in life began to interest me, and I wanted to do fashion design or photography. My dream was to attend Savannah College of Art & Design. Instead, I married and became a stay at home mom. As a mother, I considered going back to college for teaching, but instead continued teaching 4K at the preschool I worked at, and eventually, with my second child, became a stay at home mom. By the time my third child was born, my dreams of teaching were no longer anywhere in sight.

But, life had other plans for us. In 2009, my husband was suddenly diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease, or ESRD. He began dialysis immediately and our lives were turned upside down. I realized that I was not going to be able to support us without a college degree, and he no longer could work. I decided to head back to school to become a nurse. I enrolled in a local technical school, with the intentions of obtaining my associate degree in nursing. After finishing the undergraduate courses, I was finally accepted into the nursing program early through a program called Merit. My grades and hard work had all been worth it! However, after my third semester of nursing school and clinicals, I was a wreck. I barely recognized myself anymore. I had gained weight, my hair was falling out, and I was barely sleeping. I lived on Red Bull and my kids barely knew who I was. I was spending 40 hours a week at school and the hospital and another 40 hours a week studying. I was an emotional wreck. At this point, I'm not even sure that it had dawned on me that nursing was not for me. I was so exhausted and the only way out seemed to be to just push forward.

But, then I failed a course. I had never received less than a B in a course my entire life, so failure was crushing. I had tried and sacrificed so much, only to fail. I took a semester off to regroup and tried again- too proud to admit defeat. I had come so far. Instead, I missed passing again by two questions on the final exam. I had failed again. I was absolutely devastated. I have never been so depressed and lost. Determined to finish something, I enrolled in courses to finish my associate degree in science. One and a half semesters later, I had my associate degree and was looking to transfer, but for what? I had no idea what I wanted to be when I "grew up".

After some serious soul searching, I realized that teaching had always been in my heart. Even when in nursing, my long-term goal was to teach nursing. I'm not sure why I went into nursing, but I attribute it to the fact that my husband's ongoing medical issues confused me and I wanted to understand what was going on. To this day, I can't say that nursing school was a total loss because I have medical experience and knowledge that I use on an everyday basis. But, teaching is where I belong. I enrolled in the University of Phoenix online in August of 2014. I started my core courses in March of 2015 and I have never been more sure of something in my life. It feels right, and it makes me happy. I'm excited about the future. In January of 2016, I started substitute teaching. Substitute teaching is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done because you rarely ever know what you are walking into when you enter a class. The teacher will leave you notes, but understanding the children and their needs is something you must learn on your own. When you only get one day with that class, that can be difficult. However, even on the worst days, I leave smiling. I love all of my "kids" and always feel like I'm making a difference.
So, why teach?  I want to teach because the feeling of helping a child succeed is better than chocolate. I want to teach because I've experienced failure and I realize that failure does not have to be the end. Failure sometimes helps us realize who we are and what we are capable of. Failure is just the beginning of success. I want to teach because I am passionate about helping children learn to succeed.

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