We asked Faculty of Education alumni to reflect on their teacher journeys, offer advice to their younger selves, and salute the educators who had an impact on them professionally and personally. Here’s what they told us.
Why did you choose education as a career?
I chose education for many different reasons. However, one of the biggest reasons was my desire to be a support and motivator for kids. Many students come from tough situations and I wanted to be able to help them to become more confident and feel more supported through these tough times while discovering their own path. Additionally, I wanted to help and provide opportunities to make schools feel welcoming and inclusive. I wanted school to feel like a second home to students, which is why student leadership has become an area in which I am very passionate. I was lucky enough to gain more exposure and experience to student leadership. Through creating events and hands-on opportunities, I'm able to provide abilities for students to develop their confidence and leadership skills, while helping to build a strong and positive school culture.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of teaching that you discovered during your career?
I think it would be the opportunity to mentor kids. Specifically, I find it incredibly rewarding to mentor and work with students throughout their high school career. This is the time when students are truly trying to figure out their lives after high school and who they want to be as a developing individual. There are so many students who have been coached and mentored by our team at W.P. Wagner School, in order to help them build their confidence and figure out "who they are." Seeing them go through this immense amount of growth has been truly inspiring.
If you could tell your younger self a piece of teaching advice, what would it be?
Make sure to get to know your students and colleagues well. Don't be afraid to be the first one to start the conversation. When you come to work with a huge network of friends and people who you know beyond a “hello” and “how are you” level, it makes it the best place to be. More specifically, when you have a close connection with your colleagues, it makes you and the rest of the staff far more approachable for the kids too.
If you had to thank or acknowledge another educator for inspiring or supporting you, what would you say?
I would say, thank you for believing in me and helping me to find my way through coaching and mentorship. Although I’ve worked with many amazing educators who have helped me along the way, there are two in particular, David Tran and Atif Hirjee, who are such huge role model educators of mine. I am lucky to work alongside them at my current school. They have truly been some of the biggest supports in helping guide me toward building my confidence and figure out what kind of educator I want to be. I started student teaching at this same school, where I was first beginning my teaching journey. I can honestly say I was nervous and I hadn’t quite figured out my teaching path and teaching philosophy at that point. Throughout my student teaching, they coached and inspired me toward developing my own teaching style and philosophies, leading me to become the educator I am today. It’s truly inspiring to have such wonderful people believe in you, no matter how many mistakes you make; It’s all part of the process. I especially appreciated this when I was finding my footing, which is where I began to truly appreciate the idea of self-reflection. No matter what crazy ideas I came up with, they would help me through the reflection process on what I could improve on, and always were willing to have honest, authentic, and genuine conversations to figure out the most fitting plan for any event, class, workshop, etc.
I think we make a truly powerful team at our school, and I am so fortunate to learn and work alongside them. I am always inspired by their compassion and trust. I am lucky to have them as friends, colleagues, and mentors.