That is neither my quote nor my story. Coming from a family of teachers; teaching was the last thing I wanted to do.
When I was in college I had a professor ask me if I always wanted to be a teacher, I told him no. He asked if I wanted to be a teacher because I loved kids; my honest answer was, “I think kids are awesome. But I don’t want to be a teacher because I love kids”. He encouraged me to change majors because he questioned my passion. That professor was a straight-up idiot.
As a child, I had many different passions. I wanted to be rich and famous. I wanted to be an actress, rock star, rapper, dancer, a female NFL football player, ninja, world-renowned doctor, and the first female President among a plethora of other things. Needless to say, I had a very active imagination. I thrived on exploration and discovery. Fortunately, it is this imagination and inquisitive nature that would inspire a love for learning and define who I am today.
In high school, I became more realistic about my future. I wanted a lucrative career; I decided that I wanted to be a lawyer. Law was interesting to me, and it still is. I liked debating and developing arguments. I was very successful in speech and debate. Furthermore, I had a strong sense of justice; so, I thought I law would be the perfect career choice for me. I’d get to be in a courtroom all day, and I’d make lots of money. My future was set.
In my junior year high school, I was selected to work in a summer tutoring program called Rainbow Magic. Rainbow Magic was a volunteer program that took at-risk children and paired them with high school students.I really didn’t want to do it, but
my Mama I thought it would look good on my college applications. Besides, I needed to do something besides brood and listen to Boyz II Men all summer.
When I met my little friend, the first thing he told me was, “I ain’t no good at reading”. He wasn’t really happy or motivated to be there, but neither was I for that matter.
We worked with our students to improve their reading comprehension skills by performing various fun and stimulating reading activities. I would come early and stay late. I created different activities to help my young friend become a stronger reader. I was so excited when I realized he had big troubles with blends (th, sh, nt). I focused on my friend’s weaknesses and used his interests to guide my activities. Figuring out different activities for my friend was fun; I couldn’t wait to show up the next day to do more “work”. Rainbow Magic turned out to be more fun than I expected.
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me.
We tested our students at the beginning and end of the program. At the end of the summer, the tests concluded that almost all of the students made overwhelming progress in their reading skills; my friend demonstrated tremendous growth in his literacy skills. On top of that, he beat blends like a boss!
I met him as a timid, weak reader, and he left me more confident reader. I had never felt more successful in my life. On the final day as my sweet, little friend boarded the small white van that would take him home for the final time, I knew what my future held. I tried to fight it, but I knew there was nothing else I wanted to do.
My destiny was fulfilled. I had found my passion. I fell in love that summer. I fell in love with teaching.
As a teacher, I am able to be many things. I am a lawyer, a dancer, a doctor, a football player, a party planner, an actress, a singer, an artist, a community leader, and, most importantly, an educator. Becoming a teacher has made me very rich indeed. My greatest accomplishment is my students’ success. There is nothing more satisfying than to watch a student grow and learn. When my former students return to tell me that what I taught them was important or that I had some sort of positive impact on their lives, it makes a lot of the bad stuff about the job worth it.
So my story as an educator is a story of love. Did I live happily ever after? Not quite. That isn’t how real love stories go. Good relationships take a lot of work. There are bumps and detours. There are things I want to change, and things I must begrudgingly accept. I’m not always respected or valued in this relationship. Sometimes people who know nothing about my relationship try to add their unprofessional opinions and ruin a good thing. Sometimes I get taken advantage of, and my feelings get hurt. Sometimes I don’t give it all I’ve got. Yes, there are even times I get fed up and think about throwing in the towel. But it always works out. Because underneath it all, there is love. My love for teaching. My love for my students. My love for learning. And most importantly, my love for the profession.
After all these years, I still feel like that high school girl volunteering at Rainbow Magic. And that Dear Reader, is what real love is all about.