I’m 33 (hence the name) and absolutely in love with my career. Lucky to say I know. Every morning I’m greeted with 18 beautiful children. For them, between 7:30 a.m and 3:30 I’m their access to safety, love, lessons (some in the book, some from the heart), food, inspiration, entertainment, hope, structure, and often a break in their sometimes chaotic lives. It’s an awesome and terrifying responsibility (even in my fifth year). ‘In loco parentis’ were legally acting in place of their parents.
I didn’t “always know I wanted to be a teacher”. It happened as a result of choices and in my opinion realizing MY purpose. And I could name 1,273 situations that made me realize what a fulfilling career I’ve been blessed with, and probably a considerable number less which resulted in me crying in my car; or had to take a deep breath and look up to the ceiling and try not to cry at work. Here’s how it all started.
I was a foster child until I was almost 11: (cue the violins), I had my fair share of ugly hardships, witnessed disgusting acts of people who were supposed to be there to care for me, and learned to be untrusting and suffered from a low self esteem until my late 20’s. BUT amongst those hazy and grey times there were rays of sunshine. Humans that just make this place a little better.
Picture Day. Second grade, and I was back with my biological mother (again) to see if she was able to care for me. My Mom was pretty, she was fun, but she wasn’t able to care for me or always keep me safe. On picture day she brushed my dirty blonde hair, and placed in a sparkly headband. I put on a pretty pink dress. Now my mother was sweet, but she also knew how to get over on people. I witnessed it, I understood it even at 7. She sealed the picture money envelope without money inside, but filled it out like she had.
When I got to school, my hyperactive and cheeriness from getting pretty for picture day began to fade as I saw kids that didn’t have unhealed rash with calamine spotting their body. Or a dress that was starting to tear. And had money in their picture envelope. I got in line, and my teacher smiles at me. She opened my sealed envelope, saw there was no money in it, and wrote a check and placed it in. It was quick. She hadn’t pondered it. She was just a GOOD person, plain as that. She was a teacher.
It might seem a small gesture but it remains one of my only pictures remaining from a childhood with my many moves. I don’t remember her name. But she showed me an example of who I wanted to be.
Lesson one: my adversities and pain were for a REASON. (This took me so long to understand)
I was going to be one of those teachers. I recognize that smile she gave me that day, in myself. With my students.