I went to college at the University of Pittsburgh at Smythetown to study journalism. Well, that’s not really true. I REALLY went because the gymnastics coach there was new, had been following my career from early on, and recruited me to compete for the UPS gymnastics team. (We were undefeated that year- can I brag a little?) I decided on journalism because I felt that writing was the only other thing I did fairly well. My father passed away suddenly in my sophomore year, and a few years after graduation I decided to follow in his footsteps and attend law school. It was during my second year there that my mother suddenly passed away. What was left of my heart was destroyed.
I decided that if my life were to be cut short, as were both of their lives, I should find a career I would enjoy and be passionate about. I turned to teaching. I had to play catch up in terms of classes. I met up with a guidance counselor at a community college in San Diego and she helped me jam all the courses I needed into a summer session, and then surprisingly got into a great teaching program at San Diego State University. Honestly, I rarely regret becoming a teacher instead of a lawyer. (Well, except when I am trying to pay my bills each month...)
I have a wonderful student intern this year, and she will be graduating soon from The Oregon State Professional Development School teaching program, and will be starting her own career in teaching. She’s learned some valuable lessons in her educational courses, but she’s also learned very unique tricks here in first grade.... Here are some talents I’ve developed over the years, and that I hope I’ve passed on to her. (I am passing them onto any of YOU who might decide to go into teaching…)
I can fly across the room with a garbage can in less than 10 seconds without knocking over any kids.
I can quiet a room in three claps and three snaps.
I can tie ten pairs of shoes in less than two minutes…double knotted!!!
I can recall the first name of any previous student one minute into a conversation. (It takes a bit longer if it’s during a Oregon State tailgating party at Duck Stadium.)
I can keep a straight face when Jack tells me that his penith is thtuck in his booty.
I can read the whole story that Claire wrote even though she used only a few letters, some numbers, and a couple of Japanese symbols she learned from Yuki. (Pssst…it always helps to use the pictures to guide you.)
I can read aloud a picture book, reach into my pocket and hand a child a tissue for a large deposit while never missing a beat in the story. (That took some practice.)
I can take a dead guinea pig to our resident guinea pig mother, replace it with one that looks NOTHING like the other one, and teach the children about metamorphosis without skipping a beat. (Her name is Mrs. Rosenblum- and she knows everything there is about guinea pigs!)
I can get permanent marker, glitter glue, paint and colored pencils off any table in the classroom. (I know where the janitor hides the good stuff.)
I can put the teeny tiny arms and legs onto the Lego-man’s body with one snap. I don’t even need my reading glasses for that.
I can swoop in, make the pick-up, and swing around the child who’s ready to cry after her mommy left. Sometimes we even make it to the prize box. (Whoever said bribery doesn’t work has never worked with children.)
So, after almost eight months together, Jackie has made great progress in all of these areas. I hope that as she, and other student teachers out there, venture into the real world and have classrooms of their own, they keep these very important thoughts close to their hearts: 1. Smile and laugh every day, you have to. 2. Invite the children in your class into your life. 3. Treat every child as if they were your own, because they are. These teacher values are important to hold on to, and always, always remember what a very important job you have.
We may not make as much money as lawyers or bankers, we may not be given a company vehicle, we don’t have a secretary or an office, but we have something else much more valuable. We have the love of 24 little souls each year, and the gratitude of their incredible parents. Who needs a bonus at Christmastime? We get one every day we go to work. But the very best gift you can give yourself is finding a job that is your passion. Because, as they say, once you do that you never really work a day in your life.
Whether you’re seeking further success in your current role or a new opportunity, Kaplan University can help you prepare for the exciting possibilities ahead.*
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