Many times, I have been asked why I became a teacher. My answer is probably not that much different from other teachers. I wanted to become a teacher to change lives, just like my teachers did for me. You see, my home life was not always pleasant, and school became my place of sanctuary. My teachers were the reason I wanted to be at school. I knew, within those classroom walls, that I was safe and free to be myself.
I have always loved learning and sharing what I have learned. Playing school was one of my favorite ways to entertain myself. I loved playing school with my little sister, and even my stuffed animals when she refused to play with me. As I entered high school, I was given the opportunity to mentor and tutor a third grader at my school. It was one of the best experiences of high school, and I loved every single second of it. I had found what made my heart happy and knew I would be a teacher.
After high school, I continued on to college to achieve my dream of becoming a teacher. I quickly earned my Associate’s Degree from East Central Community College and transferred to Mississippi College. I had been admitted into the Teacher Education Program. My next step was to finish this Bachelor’s degree. Life, however, had different plans. My senior year did not go as expected. I had gotten married, but I had also gotten sick. After my health continued to decline, I received a diagnosis that was unexpected and decided to withdraw from my program and focus and getting healthy. I decided I needed to go in a different direction once I was healthy, and I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at Mississippi State University.
While I was excited to say I was a college graduate, something was still missing. My heart was just not content. Fifteen months after graduating from Mississippi State, I told my husband I still wanted to be a teacher. He smiled and told me to make it happen. The next morning, I applied for admission once again at Mississippi College. This time, I applied as a candidate for their alternate route program. I was accepted and quickly enrolled. While I was finishing up my first two classes, I received a call that completely changed my life. I was offered an interview for a teaching position at my childhood elementary school. I immediately said yes and scheduled the interview. They graciously hired me, and I finally would be a teacher.
Nine years later, I still love being a teacher. I love being in my classroom, watching my students grow and achieve more than they ever thought was possible. My goal is to encourage my students, my kids, to never give up. Over the years, I have become the school mom to many. I tend to be that nosey teacher that asks too many questions. However, I am also always available to listen. If I need to act a little silly in class to keep their attention, I will do so without hesitation. Whatever it takes to keep them on task and motivated, that is what I will do. I set the expectations for my students high, and we aim to reach the top of them.
Teaching has allowed me to share with my students what I learned as a child so many years ago. Labels belong on mason jars, not people. Each child is a precious, individual gift to our classrooms. Each of them, when given the chance to truly be themselves, is a real blessing. Sure, some are hard to connect with, but we must keep trying. My kids know at least two things: I respect them, and I will always be there for them. I will be one of the first to congratulate them for a job well done. Likewise, I will also be one of the first to redirect and correct them if they are out of character.
Teaching is such a rewarding job. It is the little things that make each day so worthwhile. I enjoy the Monday morning updates that students just have to share about their weekends. Sometimes it is the simple and quiet “thanks for coming” from the student that saw you watching and cheering at whatever extracurricular event that was happening at the time. Sometimes it is the bouncing student showing me an improved ACT score that keeps me encouraged. Nothing feels better than finding out that a student considers you their favorite. Finding sticky notes from current students on my desk to say thanks is heartwarming. Receiving encouraging notes from administrators and fellow teachers when they see a job well done makes me keep at it. Being a high school teacher, having seniors come ask for letters of recommendation, hand delivering an invitation to graduation, and/or gifting a thank you note during the senior walk is such a powerful reminder of why I am a teacher. It is not about test scores or awards – it is in fact about watching our students become their best, successful selves. I know I’m making a difference and these little things make me want to continue for years to come.
We, as educators, have such a powerful platform and an immensely important job to do. We teach others how to do everything. Teaching is not always going to be fun or easy. Some days are HARD and long, but every single day is worth the time and energy. Watching children grow and become young adults is definitely life changing.
Student Council Sponsor
Forest High School
Forest Municipal School District