This I Believe

Deborah - Cape Neddick, Maine
Entered on July 24, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: legacy

I’ve often thought of what impression I will leave upon the people I have been privileged to encounter in life. I want my legacy to be a lasting one and that is why I have chosen to teach. Although there are many avenues in which to pursue a career in teaching, I have chosen public schools because the need is greater, and because the opportunity to make a difference is an every day possibility.

I first knew I wanted to become a teacher after leading a photography workshop during my college years. I saw the excitement of the participants as they succeeded, after first struggling with the tricky process of film developing. Their grinning faces were the reward that any teacher would recognize as success. Even so, I knew I wanted to have a deeper influence. Those students came to me willing and ready to learn, but it is the students who have not yet discovered the thrill of learning that I want to reach. Children coming from low-income areas have a much lower chance of receiving a positive, enriching education from their home life. It is therefore vital that they receive this in the classroom, but that is not always the reality. In my life I have been fortunate to have learned from a few amazing and inspired teachers, and I have cultivated a love of art and literature that has added a greater meaning to my own life. That not all children have access to great teachers is a tragedy.

The impact that teachers can have on their students is profound, but not always positive. Educators are given the opportunity to guide young minds as they develop into the adults that will influence our society. This is not an endeavor to be taken lightly, and I have contemplated at great length how to best approach the challenges that will arise on a daily basis. What I will offer my students is a willingness to listen, to understand and to creatively approach each day as a fresh chance to connect. I am deeply committed to seeing these children succeed, and an open mind and a positive attitude have never failed to serve me.

We all have the power to think, to reason, to imagine, and to believe. Often however, that power is locked away, perhaps by circumstances or by the perception that there are no options. It is up to parents, and if parents fail, to teachers, to give these children the key to unlock the door to possibility in their life. I believe there is so much potential in the students who have struggled for most of their lives. They may be harder to reach, but how much greater the reward when a connection is made. By offering these students an alternative to the only route they know, we can open up a whole new world of possibility for them. As a teacher in the public school system, my mission is to cultivate within these children the tools they need to alter their circumstances and change their life.

I know I am undertaking something that is a challenge. But I am also undertaking something that is to be my life’s work. I believe so strongly in the freedom that is attained through learning. I believe that a good education is vital to finding happiness and fulfillment in life. And I feel passionate about making a difference in the lives of others.