A teaching award hangs above my desk in my office. I earned this accolade in second grade. I do not remember why, specifically, I earned a teaching award in second grade, but my mother once shared that I spent summers gathering neighborhood children in our garage, which I had painstakingly set up as a classroom. I spent hot days teaching my friends in the coolness of that garage. I do not remember proclaiming that I wanted to be a teacher. It just happened.
I was the first of 28 grandchildren to finish college, but my journey was not a typical one. I spent the first nine years of my education in a Montessori school, making my own learning choices under the guidance of other-thinking educators.
When it was time to attend high school, a Montessori option was not available, and I changed from skipping to school to skipping school altogether. I was bored and became a stubborn, reluctant student who did not understand why I was asked to learn what I had already learned. Learning was reduced to persistence and sufferance, and I graduated from high school with my class, but not at the top of my class.
College was not on my radar, but I was ready for something else and had no idea what that looked like. I reverted back to education on my own terms while learning new places and cultures through creative work and travel. I was looking for my voice in this life, and I spent several years learning about myself and figuring out how to attain the life I desired.
College was part of that plan, and I was thrilled to find myself in rooms of inspired educators and engaged learners. I found my voice there while exploring the dreams that resided in my heart, even those I had not yet realized. I attended every class, realized the value of why I was there, and made the connections I want my students to make earlier than I did.
Mostly, I learned knowledge can open doors and education can be emancipating. I work every day to help students see the advantages in the different ways they can learn and the awesome power of celebrating their journey, no matter what that journey looks like.