This post was written for the Project PLN Passion issue in response to the question, “Why are you passionate about education?” I only hope I did it justice.
Many respond with a look of utter confusion when I explain that I turned my back on two years of pre-med classes for the picture book reading life of an elementary education major. It’s true, I wanted to be a doctor, a pediatrician to be exact, and I set out on that path during the final two years of my high school career. However, deep down in my gut, I always had deep admiration for teachers. I had some of the most amazing teachers growing up, and to this day I owe a lot of who I am as a teacher to them (Thank you Mrs. Alameda & Mr. McBride). Teaching was where I was headed until the status and money perfumed fragrance of the medical profession wafted into my olfactory receptors like the aroma of chocolate chip cookies fresh out of mom’s oven. It took an organic chemistry class kicking my ass to knock some sense back into my head (and trust me, it kicked hard). It allowed me to reflect on what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life.
I made the decision to switch my major from Microbiology to Elementary Education one night studying at a coffee shop with friends. It took all of 10 minutes to come to this realization. The encouragement of those there that night and a call to my parents, along with their complete support sealed the deal. The next day I made it official. (Peace out College of Science! What up, College of Ed?) I made the right decision. I love going to a school each day, working with students, and putting new technology into the hands of teachers and kids. I found my passion, and I love every second of it.
Students are the heart, soul, and inspiration behind what I do each day. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are days that are tough, and times when I question whether or not it’s worth it. However, all it takes a note from a 2nd grader telling me “You Rock!” or a hug from a 4th grader that sneaked out of line and into my office to put things back into perspective. I get to make a difference in the world, one student at a time and there isn’t a single job perk out there better than that (although tater tots in the cafeteria makes a compelling case for a close second). I have the pleasure and humbling experience of helping kids discover their own passions while I live out mine. I get to mentor, inspire, laugh with, and love students that may not get any of that when they leave our walls each afternoon. I get to have fun everyday, inspire staff and students, and wear chucks instead of dress shoes. When a fifth grader asked me what I was going to wear that next day to work and then showed up in the same outfit, I knew I had found my calling in this world, my true passion.
Harold Whitman said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.” I’m in education because it makes me come alive and I get to inspire students to do the same. Thanks for kick O-Chem, I needed it.
photo: Lucian Teo (Flickr, Creative Commons)