I was born with the soul of a mother. By that, I mean that I have always been moved to worry about and take care of others – my brothers and sister, my friends, my husband, my children, my parents and my students. I knew from an early age that I had to choose a career that would allow me to honor this calling.
I started college as a Psychology major after a favorite high school teacher made the subject come to life for me. I entertained daydreams of nurturing patients and saving lives! These visions sustained me until I took my first early childhood psychology class. From the first day in that class, there was no turning back - I had found my place. In this class, I began to revisit, explore and reflect on the adult relationships that had influenced my life. Some of these relationships were based on positive interactions, while others were of a more negative nature. Oddly enough, it was these negative encounters that convinced me that I could make a true difference in people’s lives. I have always believed that one’s personality, self- awareness and self-esteem are formed in the early years of childhood. Every adult relationship serves to mold and guide us from this time forward.
When I contemplate my earlier school experiences, my stomach still aches with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. I was an average student, yet, in my eyes, I was stupid and slow. I will never know if I was just good at hiding these fears, or if my teachers simply never looked closely enough to read into my hesitation to answer questions in front of my peers or my looks of terror when asked to “go to the board and show your work”.
I still struggle with these feelings, so I am constant searching the faces of my students for these subtle signs of insecurity and low self-esteem. I look for the familiar darting eyes, flushed face and wringing of hands.
I believe that one of my greatest contributions to and accomplishments in education stems from my ability and willingness to consider and confront these childhood insecurities and use them, in turn, to empower and challenge my students to become life-long learners. I see it as my responsibility to create a safe learning environment in which my students can become risk-takers, a safe haven where they can open their hearts and souls and venture into new situations, which require of them a level of vulnerability and trust, which we adults are seldom comfortable with.
I believe great teachers are like mirrors. Our students look into our eyes in order to see themselves as we see them. My greatest accomplishment is my desire to be a mirror for my students – to take in those fragile images and reflect back an image that is full of light, hope and potential.