“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”Dolly Parton
I’ve been very fortunate to have had a few great teachers in my life as well as a fortunate to only have a few bad. I think that both types have helped to shape me into the teacher I am today. Let me start at the very beginning, a very good place to start, according to Maria in The Sound of Music. I met Mrs. Honey Burrell as a wild 4 year old. She was amazing! She was always kind yet firm and had a sweetness to her. I do not remember much about being four or my time at Gazebo Day Care but I have always remembered my first teacher. I met her once more in the second grade and she again mesmerized me with her approach to teaching. It wasn’t always about memorizing dates and formulas but about learning to enjoy being curious. Teachers like Mrs. Honey have always been the best teachers for me. The ones who find the joy in sharing their love of learning and make genuine connections with their students own interests.
Teaching is my second profession. My first career choice was a cosmetologist. I loved being creative with hair and nails and being able to meet people. I worked in a couple of salons in my hometown for a few years and then began to think of owning my own shop. I knew that I would need to go back to school and learn some business and accounting so I enrolled in the technical college, still in my hometown. The accounting and business courses were not my favorite classes but as part of the program I was enrolled in, I also was required to take some liberal arts courses. This is when I became excited. I took literature and history courses and finally an art history course and I was hooked. I started taking studio art classes and soon decided that business and accounting were not the path I wanted to take. As I thought about my future I began to think about how I could marry my love for art and my thirst for learning. I thought of Mrs. Honey and all the other teachers that I had had since her who had really influence my learning because of their joy of teaching, and then I knew what had to be done.
Becoming a art teacher was not as easy as changing my major. After deciding that this is what I really wanted I spoke with my daughters art teacher to find out the requirements. In the state of South Carolina there are two ways to receive teaching credentials. One path was through obtaining a degree in Art Education while the other was to acquire a degree in Studio Art and then spend two years in the PACE program, an alternative certification program. After some consultation I decided that the Art Education degree was the best fit for me. The only obstacle was the nearest college to offer this degree was an hour and half from where I had spent my entire 28 years. Over the next four years, I spent endless hours juggling courses, daycare and work to accomplish my goal to become an art teacher. I have never regretted my decision.
Over the years as I reflect on my teaching practice I know that I have learned just as much from my mentors as I have from my students. I hope that what my students take away from my classes is a joy for learning. Since becoming a teacher I have learned more about the world in ways that no other profession could have provided me with. I have met so many interesting people and experienced beliefs, cultures and philosophies beyond my own. As I continue on this journey, I look forward to the possibilities and experiences that still await me.