Let’s talk about the role teachers play in our lives and in shaping who we become. This is such an important subject to me because I was so fortunate to have such amazing teachers throughout my life, from my 1st grade teacher who realized that I could be a Bear instead of a Duck with a little encouragement (reading levels, bear was the highest) to my 5th grade teacher who encouraged me to produce my first underground fanzine (back before they were all the rage).
Of all my amazing teachers, one stands out from all the rest. Without her, I honestly don’t know if I would have made it through high school. Sr. Jane taught 10th and 12th grade English. She also taught Speech Communications, an elective course for seniors. Her influence as a teacher shaped much of who you see today. She was the warmest and most compassionate teacher I ever met, yet at the same time she didn’t take nonsense from anyone. She could be very blunt when she thought you could do better than the work you turned in, yet full of praise when she knew you tried your best. She never coddled, but she was also never harsh. Her lessons in the classroom made me a stronger writer, but it was her lessons outside the classroom that made me a stronger person.
Where Sr. Jane didn’t coddle in the English department, she saved my life in the emotional department. I suffered from extreme adolescent-onset depression and anxiety in high school. Many people at my school helped me through that time, but Sr. Jane was a constant source of comfort. No matter what she was doing, she was always there for me. If I needed her and she was in the middle of a class, she stepped out into the hall for a moment to calm me down and arrange a time right there to meet later in the day. She never, ever failed to be there for me. Ever. When I say she is the teacher who made me what I am today, I mean it with all my heart. She made sure I made it through high school so I COULD be here today. So I could be a writer, a mother, a compassionate person, a lover of books, a survivor.
Be the Change in a Child’s Life with Teach For America
Did you know that 16 million kids are growing up in poverty in the United States? Of those kids, only one in three will graduate from high school, and just 18% will go on to a four-year college.
Getting those numbers up requires people willing to BE the change in a child’s life, to teach not just basic core skills, but also offer emotional support the way Sr. Jane did for me. If this sounds like something you may be interested in, this guide will lead you through all you need to know to become a teacher.
Teach For America is working hard to be that change. They’ve spent 25 years working both in and out of the classroom helping to improve the odds for kids growing up in poverty.
Here’s how it works: Teach For America recruits remarkable people- like you!- to become teachers in low-income areas. You commit to two years of teaching, become one of their corps members and you’re hired by their partner schools in 52 regions around the country.
During those two years, Teach For America provides extensive training and ongoing coaching and development in the classroom, helping you become a great teacher and leader. When the two years are over, you can use what you learned to go on to do whatever you choose. Continue teaching, become a school leader, or even go on to politics, policy, law, or another field where you can advocate for kids at an even broader level!
This is an awesome opportunity not only to make a huge difference in the lives of kids, but also to learn incredibly valuable leadership skills for your own future. Teach For America recruits from all career backgrounds and majors, and their alumni hold distinguished leadership roles in many fields and continue to advocate for kids.
They’re also recruiting military veterans and spouses. I absolutely love that because it helps both the kids and the veterans. Another one of my favorite teachers, Dr. Nye- my history, sociology and American government teacher – was a veteran. He brought such depth and life to the classes he taught and always rewarded us with stories of “Daisy,” a fellow soldier who was always up to crazy antics. I’ll never forget Dr. Nye’s speech at our graduation. He spent hours researching Daisy’s fate and as a final reward, he told us how Daisy went on to earn a Purple Heart for his bravery and sacrifice in saving the lives of fellow soldiers. I graduated over 20 years ago and the lessons I learned from his service legacy have stayed with me in so many ways. Learn more about the Military Veterans Initiative.
Every child deserves access to the best possible resources to support their education and their future, regardless of income level. Money or geographical location should never hold a child back from reaching his or her full potential. My own school experience taught me that the right teachers make all the difference in the world. You could be that right teacher! Head over to Teach for America to learn more about teaching.
Did you have an amazing teacher who really stood out and changed your life in school? Tell me about him or her in the comments!