I’ve been fortunate to have had amazing teachers while I was growing up. I remember sitting in my 5th grade classroom and laughing at something funny Mrs. Kuzirian said. I also remember sitting in her classroom learning about Anne Frank, which still stays with me today, as I teach the Holocaust to my 6th graders. At 11 years old, I said to myself, I want to be like her! My 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Petermann, helped me see that I am great just the way I am. Very early on, these teachers, without realizing, planted a seed of passion which I had no idea I would have. Mr. Passenti, my high school band teacher, once said to me, “Are you thinking about becoming a teacher? You are great at helping others.” Then it hit me. Yes! I do want to become a teacher!
I cannot believe that my long path into a classroom would be one of the most rewarding journeys ever. Of course there is a lot of hard work, planning, grading, and worrying about my students, but seeing their smiling faces when they come to school and hearing their humble, “Bye Ms. Mendoza. See you tomorrow!” give me the energy to come to work everyday. You see, I’m not in the classroom for the paycheck or days off as many of my non-teacher family and friends think. I’m here because there might be a student who needs a teacher to encourage them to keep trying; a teacher who will help them understand that they matter in this world; a teacher who will say “I care about you and I know you can achieve anything you put your mind to”; and finally, a teacher who will say “I believe in you.”
I love teaching because I had teachers who inspired me to be like them. I love asking my students to share what they think about the topic we are learning. I love hearing the discussions and somehow, what I thought they didn’t understand, is right there, in their discussion! It really is all of the small, everyday things, that provide rewards for all of those sleepless nights studying to pass a class, graduate, and eventually get certified.
A teacher who loves their job, who truly has a passion for education, usually has no idea the impact they will bring to a child’s life. Students learn best from those who love what they do! I truly believe that. I experienced that myself as a child. I also see that in my own son. When he comes home excited about his class, I know his teacher loves teaching, especially when it’s a class he has always struggled with. Teachers who love teaching always find creative ways to do their job. They can identify with their students and be in tune with their needs. I know they will provide the best education to their students.
To all the teachers who love teaching, pat yourselves on the back! You do amazing things, be proud, stand tall.