“I have no idea what I want to be, but I know that I don’t want to be a teacher because I never want to step foot in a school again.” –Allyson Apsey, age 18, upon graduating from high school
I really really did not like school. I found it to be a chore to get through, and most of the time it drained energy out of me rather than inspiring a love of learning. I never had a problem with learning, in fact, I really liked to learn. I was always an avid reader, and I thank Danielle Steele’s Zoya for a B in my first college history class. I love history and throughout my life I could often be found cuddling up with historical fiction, a good biography or autobiography. It infuriates me that I did my best learning outside of the classroom—I spent seven hours a day surviving incredible boredom and cherished the few hours I would have in the evening to do my own learning. Don’t even get me started on what I thought about homework.
When I graduated from high school, I felt a need to head to college, and I decided to pursue business for lack of knowing what else to do. I attended a local community college, and that experience was much of the same. My alarm would go off in the morning, and I determined if I was going to attend class or not based on whether there was a test that day. My turning point came in the form of a class cancelation—my psychology class was cancelled and I needed to figure out another class to take that would fulfill that requirement and fit into my schedule. The only class that fit the bill was Educational Psychology.
On the first day of class, the professor asked the students to raise their hands if they were pursuing a career in education. I was the only student who didn’t raise her hand. Regardless of why I was taking the class, I was required to do the same number of volunteer hours in a classroom as every other student.
I ended up volunteering in my aunt’s first grade classroom. I walked in for my first experience, I felt very intimidated. After a few minutes of interacting with the students, especially one snotty-faced curly-haired cutie pie, I was hooked. I looked at their faces and felt a tremendous responsibility to do my best to make sure that their school experience inspired them, challenged them, and set the stage for a limitless future for each of them. I realized that if I became a teacher, I could make sure that I would have one year to do that for them, and I decided I knew my fate and it was far from what I had pictured.
Ironically, I cannot think of any other place I would want to spend each day than at school. I loved being a teacher and I love being a principal even more. The learning, problem-solving, and creativity inspires me to improve every day. The biggest lesson my own K-12 school experience taught me is that we need to build relationships and inspire our students to learn and dig deeper than they ever thought they could. We need to be innovative so we can figure out how to do this for every child in our school, our classroom. When you take a look around your own school or classroom and see those snotty-faced cutie pies or surly teenagers, I bet you agree with me that our students deserve nothing less.