My passion for education came from my late grandmother. She was a teacher and educator in her early years. Her favorite line to tell me was “People can take away everything from you, but they can never take away your education.”
I actually started my career as an accountant; but I always found myself trying to justify my job and searching to see if I could find the greater good in what I was doing. I found myself daydreaming in the audit room about becoming an educator.
I teach fifth- and sixth-grade English language arts. I am sure I will be in the educational field in some capacity for the rest of my life.
I have always had a love for math. In high school, I was involved in several different math clubs and was even a tutor. I decided to pursue a teaching career when I realized that I was able to teach math to others in a way that they could understand. After six years of teaching, I’m now a curriculum coach, which means I supervise the math department. I help guide the development of my school’s math curriculum and decide what we teach our students during the year. In the long run, I’m working at the district level to create and run the math curriculum.
I believe that I am really making a difference in my students’ lives. In addition to sharing my mathematical knowledge, I take a real interest in my students and ask them how things are going at home or how a baseball game went. I am a support system for my students.
Teaching was not a career that really called out to me from the start. I wanted to be an actuary at one point; but then I realized that career was extremely boring, and that’s not what I wanted. After four years of undergraduate studies and about two years of soul-searching, I understood that teaching is my calling. I just wake up and feel that I’m needed to educate others.
Since becoming a teacher, I have taught middle school Algebra 1 and geometry. Now, I’m teaching Algebra 2 to 10th- and 11th-graders. The best part of teaching is finding those students who share a piece of the same love for math as I do. I have a very special place in my heart for students who simply love what math reveals to them.
I am fortunate enough to have been a student in the classrooms of many passionate teachers and am the daughter of a dedicated school counselor. Education has always been an integral part of my life, and I wanted to contribute to that tradition. Now, as a teacher, I love that every day is different. I get to meet the most fantastic group of people, form relationships, nurture their growth and then do it all again the next year. I am responsible not only for teaching English language arts but also for helping my students develop as human beings. Each day brings a new challenge and an opportunity to problem-solve.
Teaching is the most difficult job you will ever love; be sure you are ready to make that commitment. Doing this job halfway means someone else will be impacted negatively. I have always wanted a career, not just a job, and I wanted a vocation that would allow me to make an impact. Meaningful work is extremely important to me, and the most valuable investment one can make is an investment in people. The best part of teaching has to be the relationships, the idea that we are all in this together.
My mother is a teacher, and teaching always came naturally to me. I knew I wanted to teach and coach to give back to my community. I teach to help make a difference for kids and to be a positive influence for the many who don’t have consistency at home, and I feel that I’m making a difference every single day. Making lasting connections with students is the best part of teaching. It’s always great to see students years later and have them tell me about something they remember from class.
I wake up each day ready to interact with my students. I love to watch them explore concepts; getting to witness their growth and those “aha” moments is priceless. Serving as a learning facilitator in my classroom is the most rewarding part of my career. I definitely feel that I’m making a difference. I’m excited about teaching and really passionate about the content, and students pick up on this enthusiasm and become engaged. I want my students to learn, build stamina and show growth at a professional level.
Growing up in a family of educators, I saw teaching as my dream job, my ultimate goal, my life’s calling and my purpose for existing. There has never been a time when I did not want to teach. If I had to choose one person who has inspired me the most, it would definitely be my grandmother Mary Olhausen. She taught fifth grade during my childhood years, and I can remember going to her room each day after school. I was always amazed at the lessons she created and the time she took to make sure her students had everything they needed to learn all they could. She taught me so much as a child from reading stories to teaching me right from wrong. She continues teaching me to this day about life’s lessons and will always be my biggest fan. I am proud to say that my oldest daughter is currently teaching along my side now as a fifth-generation teacher in our family.
I think I am making a huge difference, not only in the lives of my students and other teachers, but also my own. I am constantly looking for ways to improve my teaching skills. I am involved in many organizations and professional development opportunities that improve my teaching, allow me to train teachers across my state and enable me to reach all of the different learning styles in my classroom. One of my favorite things about teaching is measuring the progression of each student as the year continues. Seeing the growth my students make is beyond rewarding.
The amazing teachers I had while I was in school were the ones who inspired me to teach. I would get so excited about learning something new at school that I would come home and “teach” my brother what I had learned. The best part of teaching and my biggest motivation are the kids. It’s amazing to be able to watch them grow up and become their own person. Watching a kid finally get what you’re teaching is one of the greatest perks of being a teacher; it’s like watching a light bulb moment. It’s also very rewarding to feel that you’re making a difference. I have kids who come back and thank me for believing in them.
As a son of two immigrants from Haiti, I have always seen how education can truly impact a student’s life. I graduated from Florida State University and completed a master’s degree at Universidad de Alcalá in Madrid. When I was in Spain, I taught English for five years to pre-K–12th-graders, college students and adults. Now, I’m a 12th-grade Spanish teacher in Memphis.
Sometimes I wonder whether I make a difference, but then I see that my students are speaking Spanish outside of the classroom. There have been several instances when students approached me in the hallway to initiate a conversation in Spanish. Many of them are excited and motivated to travel to a Spanish-speaking country. One of my students also told me that he wants to major in Spanish when he goes to college.
It is inspiring just to be in education. I wanted to be in something interdisciplinary. I wanted to do something with math for sure, but I didn’t want to do something where I’m in an office and not socializing with others. I knew I wanted to teach and work with migrant populations as a public school teacher, so I got my bachelor’s degree in math and my master’s degree in education and in learning, diversity and urban studies.
It always just felt right to teach. I like getting to work with students from different backgrounds, and it is interesting to hear all of the stories that students bring in. Working with students who are first-generation, immigrants, low-income motivates me. I feel as though I’m being pushed more and challenged more.
I was working in business and starting my doctorate at Trevecca University when I heard that Clarksville High School was looking for a business teacher. Since then, I have never looked back. As a SCORE fellow, founder of the Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance, and a fifth-year accounting and personal finance teacher, I feel that I have truly found my calling and am making a difference in education in Tennessee.
One teacher in particular helped me think about applying to college. He was persistent and consistent, and helped me write my letters of recommendation. He’s the one who helped me get accepted to the University of Tennessee, all because he pulled me aside to have this conversation and see what I was planning to do. As a result, I was the first person to go to college in my family. I would not have done it if he had not said anything. I wrote him a letter a few years ago to thank him.
Now that I’m a teacher, one of my goals and passions is to set a positive example for my students. To do this, I founded the Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance, which is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that supports educators of color in Tennessee through increased recruitment, retention, recognition and resources. Being a person of color in the classroom is very important to me. You are giving students an opportunity just by seeing a person of color in a professional position. You give someone that opportunity by changing their outlook and perception.
My education career began teaching third-grade reading, writing and social studies to EL (English Learner) students at Maxwell Elementary School. I decided to get an EL certification, not only because it’s a growing field in Nashville with a lot of job security, but also because I truly feel a passion for teaching these students. I am so happy that I made that choice and got to work with this population. You see so much growth in their social skills and ability to communicate with adults and peers, as well as their ability to make connections between their culture and experience.
I love my career in the classroom, but I also feel that I could further my impact by spending time working in state education policy. To do this, I’m currently working on my master’s degree at Vanderbilt in learning, diversity and urban studies with a focus on education policy. I think education will always be a linking factor wherever my path takes me.