Remember when you were in elementary school, and your teachers would ask you "What do you want to be when you grow up?" When I was in kindergarten, my teacher asked my class that very question and handed out worksheets that had an outline of a teddy bear. Our assignment was to decorate the teddy bear as what we "wanted to be" when we were older. Most of the kids in my class made their bear a princess, president, police officer, or astronaut. My bear was an artist, with a little French beret and paintbrush and everything.
In third grade when we had to actually dress up and do a class presentation of what career we wanted to pursue in life, most people in my class had switched to vet, teacher, doctor, or architect. I still dressed up as an artist, with a paint-splattered "smock" (over-sized white t-shirt), paint pallet, and yes, even my own French beret.
It wasn't until middle school when I really began to think about what I wanted to do in the future. As much as I loved art, I, unfortunately, didn't think I was on the path to becoming the next Van Gogh or Picasso (However, I do truly appreciate my family for supporting my dream of being an artist for 12+ years, French beret and all).
Sixth grade was the first time in my schooling career that we had different teachers for different subjects. My middle school consisted of a small hallway with three classrooms and three teachers: one for math/science, one for English/literature, and one for history/theology. I had always enjoyed learning and all of my classes when I was in elementary school, and I like to think I performed equally well in every subject.
Sixth grade was the first time I realized how much I truly disliked math (sorry, Ms. Sisko), and although science could be interesting, it, unfortunately, involved far too much math for my liking (taking chemistry sophomore year of high school further reinforced that feeling). As the school year progressed, I found myself looking forward to my last few hours of the day when I had my history/theology class. I loved learning about the Revolutionary War; reading old documents in our textbook, copying down scribbles from the chalkboard that represented armies and forts in each battle, and being mesmerized by the fact that every single event that has taken place in the past has led to this very moment, right now.
When I got to high school, the feeling of interest and excitement about history stuck with me. As I sat in my American history class freshman year during third period every day, I began to picture myself where my teacher stood, pointing to maps and explaining important trade routes. I thought about what posters I would put on the walls; what books I would have on my bookshelves; which quote from a historical figure would I write on the board today?
I remember the first time I mentioned to my family that I wanted to become a teacher, they seemed a little surprised. Although they knew my 14 year-long artist phase had ended, I don't think they would have seen me being a teacher.
I knew that I didn't want to teach elementary school-aged children. As much as I loved school when I was younger, what truly interested me was the in-depth history facts that would completely change the way you looked at the past. I wanted people to understand that just because something took place hundreds of years ago does not mean it is no longer relevant. I wanted my students to feel the same excitement that I did when I learned about history, and help them find their own passion in life, whether it was in history or something different.
In my sophomore year of high school, we were required to meet with our guidance counselor and take an online interest survey that would match you up with compatible future occupations. I think one of the last things my guidance counselor expected to hear when he asked me, a 15-year-old girl, what I wanted to do in life was "teach high school level American history."
"Are you sure?" I vividly remember him asking me, looking genuinely surprised, and even a little skeptical. I nodded in response.
"If you want to work with kids, you could be a school counselor or a social worker, you'll make more money than being a teacher. You could also just get your associate's degree and become a teacher aid, it's much less expensive if you decide to change your mind halfway through college." I don't remember what he said much after that, probably because I was too angry to keep listening. I sat through the rest of my meeting as he talked about my "next steps" in looking at colleges, shook his hand with a forced smile, and left his office promising myself I would never see another guidance counselor again.
Fast forward almost five years later: I am in my second year of being a Secondary Education/US History major here at Cabrini. I started my first field assignment this fall at Marple-Newtown High School, where I am observing an amazing political science/history teacher with over 20 years of teaching experience. Every Wednesday my cooperating teacher at MNHS tells me about lesson plans, classroom setup, and how to handle certain topics during a class discussion. Every Wednesday I am reminded how excited I am to have my own classroom one day with my own students and writing my own lectures. While I know teaching isn't always about pretty classroom posters and group presentations, I also look forward to the days where I may be put in a tough situation and have to make a decision that will benefit my students, even if it may be a difficult thing for me to do.
I am so glad to be pursuing my teaching degree at Cabrini. I am learning to become the best educator I can be. I know it will not always be easy, and there will probably be days when I think back to what my high school guidance counselor said to me all of those years ago and think to myself "maybe he was right." But I know deep in my heart that God's plan for me is to be a teacher, and Cabrini University is right where I need to be in order to make that happen.