If I was going to start a fan club, I probably have around 10ish things that I really really love that I could start with. I’ll have to work on that list to share, but for sure, a big one on the list are teachers. I admire teachers so much. And it’s not just because so many of my favorite people are in education, whether it be in a school or homeschooling. But really, I just love their hearts for their students– their grit and passion day in and day out, and patience to deal with the sometimes crazy parents (I may or may not be talking about myself… 😉 ) And lets not forget, they had to study for and pass the Praxis exams, which I’m more than a little bit afraid of.
But, more than that, the impact they have on the lives of their student’s is immeasurable. It’s one of the reasons I’m currently going to school to get my degree in education.
It wasn’t until recently that I realized that God had been putting teaching on my heart. Before this year, my last experience in school was completing my associate’s degree and taking a break because I really had no idea at that point what career I would even like to pursue. The ten years following that, I served on the mission field in Mexico. During that time, I spent more time with children than I had ever previously experienced as I got to serve in an after-school program in the community and also began my own family.
When we moved back to the United States and I had the opportunity to return to school, someone in my life asked me why I had not thought of going to school to become a teacher. I realized that I had never seriously considered it because I didn’t really like going to school when I was a kid. Like, that’s an extreme understatement for how I felt. But, while serving in Mexico, I discovered that working with children and youth was one the greatest blessings, and teaching the Bible was something I enjoyed so much. So, I began to pray specifically about teaching, and more and more God showed me His heart for students.
The realization that teaching was something God was leading me to pursue was scary for me, because I had to look back and consider what it was about my years in school that made the thought of teaching so unappealing. In praying and considering those years, I found that it was not so much the schools that were the problem, but more so my home life. The circumstances and challenges in my family during that time had tainted memories of those years because my focus really was not school, but simply surviving.
In my college courses I’m actually learning about this right now. My textbook talks about this problem, saying, “before students will turn their attention to cognitive learning (the curriculum), they must feel physically safe and emotionally secure.” (Sousa& Tomlinson, 2018, p. 22) This was for sure a struggle of mine, while I always somehow maintained good grades during those years, my focus was never truly on being in school, and most days I dreaded being there.
During those years though, God provided help for me through school counselors. This is where my passion for teaching today comes in. I wish that I could say that a teacher noticed the home struggles I was having, but I never had a close relationship with any of them. I did not have many close relationships with adults in my life at all, but I knew I needed help and began seeing the counselor at my school.
During our counseling, he encouraged me that I needed to keep going in my education, and that I did not have to stay in the situation I was in. By my senior year, I had already lived through so many years of watching addiction and depression unfold in my home, and at that point I was living at a friend’s house, because I had been living with my dad in a motel from which he was later evicted. Things in my friend’s home started to go badly as well and I told my counselor that I was considering living in my car. Through opening up to him, he helped me to think more clearly and find a better solution. With his help I was able to apply for college and receive scholarships so that I would be able to live at the University. He really opened my eyes to opportunities that I never imagined I had. I can’t even begin to think of what could have happened if I had decided to not talk to anyone and just started living in my car instead.I know that God’s hand was guiding and protecting me then, even in His sovereignty through my counselor’s advice.
Teachers and those working in education have such a unique opportunity to be a safe person in students’ lives. My story is just one small example. In considering education for myself, it was hard for me to dig through these memories. But I realized how much that hard time was a blessing in disguise, because my story is just one of many stories of youth that walk through similar or worse circumstances. Many of them slip through the cracks unnoticed.
My teachers that did not notice me were not bad people, or bad teachers, and they probably noticed others that needed help. However, all of these considerations hit my heart so hard and made me realize that I would at least like the opportunity to notice a youth hurting like I was, and be able to help them somehow. The opportunity to be a safe person for them, to help them to see past their current situation to a future that can be so much different than their current reality is so encouraging.
Even though this next school year looks a lot different for teachers and students, I can’t help but feel so emotional thinking about the impact teachers are going to have right now in their students’ lives. Students right now are walking through a time none of us has walked through before, in a world that is so filled with fear and despair. The impact that a teacher can have being a light and encouragement for the student that comes to school right now is immeasurable. Or the impact that teacher may be, perhaps being the only voice bringing a kind or encouraging word in that student’s home as they learn online.The opportunity is there and needed more than ever to bring hope. I am so grateful for the teachers in our lives and my prayers are with you this school year. I can’t wait to join you whenever I finally finish this degree and by a miracle pass my Praxis exams. You all are amazing.
Love and God bless you,