(This blog appeared In BookCampPD as a guest contribution.)
I do not come from a long line of teachers. I don’t even come from a long line of educated people. My mother was the first person in my family to earn a college degree and I am the first to earn a Master’s Degree in my family.
I do come from a long line of people who loved, valued, and believed in education though. Our values are transmitted in the smallest of actions. Maybe it’s not always what we model as much as where we place our attention.
My father was a truck driver and never attended college but he taught me to value education. When I went to kindergarten it was a huge deal. I received a new wardrobe called “school clothes” and I was not allowed to play in them! He made sure that I could write and do basic math before I even went to school so that I would be “ready”. School is an important place.
When I had low grades my dad fought tirelessly with the Dean to have me placed in advanced classes. At the end of the term when I did well we sat in her office until she was available because he wanted her to know how well his daughter had done. I can achieve.
When I rushed through homework with poor penmanship, my dad made me write it over. When I cut school to hang out with friends in high school he assured me that he could take time off of work and was happy to attend class with me. When I got a 97% on a Math final he told me that I was capable of 100%. Learning is serious business.
My mother taught me to value education as well. When my first grade teacher sent me a letter my mother framed it and hung it up in my bedroom. Teachers are important people.
My mother spoke to me about social issues and read me thought provoking pieces like Langston Hughs’ words: “What happens to a dream deferred…” and Martin Lutheran King’s speech, “I have a dream…”. She never told me to read but I did because I watched her read all of the time. Education gives you perspective.
I saw my mother struggle to support us while she went to school for years. She worked nights so that she could attend college classes during the day. I watched her better her financial status when she became a nurse. Education opens doors.
My grandparents taught me to value education through their stories. My grandmother grew up in poverty and thought that her only way out was by working multiple jobs. She always told me that her only regret in life was not knowing what she could have become. My grandfather’s aspirations of being a doctor died in his youth when he left college because he couldn’t keep up with night school and his construction job. Education makes dreams come true.
I earned a Master’s Degree in Education and began teaching high school as a single mother of four children at 38 years old. Becoming a teacher was not an easy path for me. I chose education because when I had the opportunity to start over I wanted to dedicate the rest of my working life to a cause that I cared about. It’s never too late to connect with your purpose. I have a deep respect for educators and I’m proud to be one. I believe that education opens doors to connect students with their purpose.