I was 29 and living a good life. I'd been married 10 years. Two sons, a mortgage. And there I was...contemplating going back to college.
But it would take me 3 years to finish my degree in education.
I remember saying to Vaughn, "I'll be THIRTY-TWO when I graduate!"...he responded with a so-cute, "You'll be 32 in three years anyway."
It had been a dream of mine, obtaining a teaching degree. Somewhere along the way I had stuck it away, neatly folding it among the layers of life I had been busy living.
And along came a chance to unfold it.
With Vaughn's support and encouragement, I began school again at East Central with real gusto. I put my whole heart and mind into every course, determined to receive straight A's until I graduated. My part-time work and the boys' school work came first, then my own homework. I became a night owl (and that had never been the case before). As I marked each course off the list, I became closer and closer to making the dream of being an elementary teacher a reality.
I did my student teaching at Park View Elementary. The school was shiny and clean and structured and strong. The idea of being a teacher THERE, in such a wonderful, disciplined place...it was almost too much to even dream about. Piles of applications from experienced teachers poured in each year. As much as I dreamed about being a teacher there...it was a long shot, that's for sure. I graduated a few days before my 32nd birthday.
And in fact, there was no position for me at Park View that first year. But the principal put in a good word for me at Okemah and I was hired as a reading teacher at Oakes Elementary. Thirty-two year old me was ambitious and courageous as I went into classrooms of colleagues who had taught for years to teach Project Read to their students for 30 minutes per day. When a first grade position became available at Park View the next year, I jumped at the chance to teach in my hometown and in that school of my dreams.
I remember being sure. Sure I was going to make a difference. That what I taught them would stay with them. That their parents would support my professional opinion. And no one would ever question my love for my students.
And now, fifteen years of teaching, grading, conferencing, managing, reading stories, singing songs, laughing and loving children later...Have I changed from that beginning teacher who had such confidence and ambition to teach?
Society has changed in 15 years. Education too. I must face
it...there are aspects of me that have changed because of the politics
of being a teacher.
I remember that 32 year old, fresh-faced graduate today. Who she was and what she was excited about. How the kids faces looked when the light bulbs went on. What each day was like. And I remember thinking how amazing it was that I was getting paid for THIS. A perfect job...loving what I did and doing what I loved.
There are 17 days of school left for me this year. Days I'll spend at that school of my dreams. The school has changed. I have changed. But I am determined to bring back the enthusiasm of 32 year old me, thoroughly teaching my students, sticking to my guns, believing in them and believing in me.