Blogtember Day 6. Describe a distinct moment when your life took a turn.
When I read this prompt, millions of moments flashed through my mind. Picking one felt hard. But I settled on the day I went from being on the path of a child psychologist to that of a teacher. Funny, because now I am on the path of a small business owner, but that is another story for another time.
Growing up for me, like for so many people, was an adventure filled with peaks and valleys. One valley was the divorce of my parents. It was challenging to watch them leave each other and when I got around to deciding, really deciding, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I remembered the people who had helped me through that time. I decided that I wanted to support kids like me, who felt confused and sad and bewildered. So I started college and signed up for psychology classes.
I loved my classes. Psychology and sociology were endlessly fascinating. I had professors that inspired me. I felt I was on a good path. Then, one fateful day sitting in a lecture hall, my professor led a discussion on access. Who were we going to talk to in our line of work? She pointed what maybe should have been obvious, but for me wasn’t until that lecture. The children who I would be given the opportunity to help would have to meet a lot of criteria. They would be from a family with the financial means or medical insurance to pay for services. They would be from a family that believed in seeking help from a therapist. They would be from a family who was willing to admit that their actions were causing strain on a child they cared for deeply. I began to understand that the children I had imagined working with might not be able to find their way to me.
I walked out of class that day a bit baffled. Three years of my college career had been spent working to obtain something that seemed might it not get me where I wanted to go. The professor had mentioned two careers that might interest those of us looking to work with a broader population. Social work and teaching. The idea of being a teacher resonated with me. It was something I had done for years as a sailing instructor at Lake Merritt. It was something I had said I wanted to be when I grew up as a kid. It was something that I hadn’t taken seriously as a career until that moment.
That lecture connected the dots for me. It helped me realize the great, far reaching effects that teachers have on the students they spend every day with. That day I took a second look at what UCSD had to offer in the way of teacher training and started working toward a minor in education.
Although I am now on yet a different path, my work as a teacher for the past six years is something I hold close to my heart. I think of the students I have taught often and carry them with me.
Thank you to all those teachers who stay late, take the time to get to know their students, and who carry those students in their hearts day in and day out.