I have realized that teaching is my calling. I love it. It is my life.
It hasn’t always been that way.
About 5 years into my career, I was starting to feel comfortable with the job. I have some experience and developed confidence in myself that this is something I can do for a long time. I could have (and was heading towards) a teacher’s equivalent of Groundhog Day. My lessons were set, on PowerPoint, I had different versions of similar tests, and I could see myself plateauing and coast for the next 25 years to retirement.
And then Anya Marin became my colleague, and she saved my life.
Anya came into my school as I was reaching a crossroads in my career. What do I want to be? How was I getting there? Do I like this job? Is it okay to like it? Why do I get a feeling it should be something to be ashamed of when it is the most noble of professions? I had worked with many different colleagues, some who loved teaching, some hated it, and being a new teacher, I found myself being influenced by the negativity that can come with the job.
Anya is a veteran teacher of 25 years, so she knows what she’s talking about, and she also has the pedigree. Her father was an university professor and she already had her principal’s qualifications when I met her almost a decade ago. Anya chose to stay in the classroom instead of “ascending” because she loved teaching so much, and she had a profound effect on me. The most impressive skill Anya has as a teacher is her ability to read people, then empathize with them if the situation warrants it. I’m always shocked by how often she is correct when analyzing what people are like, their personalities/traits, and then treats them according to what is necessary.
Through a stroke of luck, I was able to carpool to school with her everyday for over a year and we became close friends. We had great talks on those car rides and I learned so much about life, people, society, and of course, teaching. Through those conversations, it became obvious to me that Anya has a love of learning, I love that she is never ashamed of her ignorance of something new. At school, I got to watch how she interacted with students, teachers, administrators, and parents. Her easy going personality and positivity was infectious and our science department was better for it.
Anya made me want to improve myself as a teacher. She did so by example. You’ll rarely hear her complain about a new initiative, or some change that was occurring in the school. Anya embraces everything teaching throws at her and always does it with a smile on her face. Her work ethic is second to none, her endless energy amazes me, and her love for her students, limitless.
If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be anywhere near the teacher I am today. Teaching is my life and Anya inspired me to make it so. When I first met her, she was the sista that I worked with. Now, I consider her a sister I cannot be without. As I move to a new school next September, I feel like my 14 year old self, about to enter high school for the first time, on the cusp of a new adventure. I’m also extremely nervous that I’ll be doing it without my mentor, my guide, my friend. I’m going to miss her so much. Thanks for always laughing at my jokes.