My Journey Draft lll

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My Journey

I remember sitting in Mr. Tetro’s classroom mesmerized by his magical powers to command an audience. I call it the “Tetro Effect.” If I close my eyes, I can still hear his gregarious voice bellowing throughout the front of his second grade classroom on that Monday morning in October, 2004. Play by play, he was discussing the Dallas Cowboys vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers football game as he cradled his football and tossed it back and forth, side to side, between his large hands. This was not just any game; these two teams have been rivals for years. The Dallas Cowboys crushed the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Mr. Tetro was a Pittsburgh  Steelers fan. Excitement filled the air. Maneuver after maneuver, he engaged his students with his intoxicating storytelling, as they sat on the edge of their seats. The room was filled with twenty-five second graders laughing, while discussing math statistics and debating over scrimmage lines. Each and every seven year old had their eyes fixated on him as he demonstrated his sense of humor and thwarted from one table to the next as if he was giving a Sunday sermon to a congregation. His energy was contagious and I wanted a part of that world. I thought, this is it, it is now or never, I have to move forward with my dream. I could visualize myself in my own classroom, now I just had to figure out how to get there.

Raising a family, and being a stay-at-home mom, made me want to move in another direction as I volunteered in my older daughter’s 2nd grade classroom; it was life altering. Mr. Tetro moved around the classroom with rapid fire and knew each student through and through. No, he really knew them; he understood their strengths and weaknesses. The Tetro effect had captured a hold of me. Mr. Tero was filled with passion, and his passion ignited me with ferocity to catapult my dreams. One month later, I enrolled in Westchester Community College for the upcoming Spring 2005 semester.

But, getting there was a huge undertaking and I had so many questions: what school should I attend, what school would be the best fit, how much is it going to cost, what were the necessary steps involved for an older student who never attended college, yet had a world of experience in life. Raising a family with my husband and making the collegiate world a part of my life would become a wonderful and challenging process. A process meaning change; uprooting oneself to being a better human being and to always push yourself ahead. My educational journey of becoming a teacher is not complete, nor do I think that any journey with a piece of paper indicating what you studied is complete, unless are in a constant flux of learning and moving forward. That is why I love teaching,

When I graduated from St. John’s Prep in 1986, I was enrolled in Hunter College to study to be a teacher; but at the last minute I had a change of heart and enrolled in The Institute of Audio Research to become an audio engineer. (What was I thinking?) My parents could not believe my choice, but they stood by me and supported me as I conquered my higher educational journey in my life at age 18.  If I could go back in time I would not change a thing. I learned how to have a hard work ethic and to push boundaries in a male dominated field and I had the opportunity of a lifetime to meet fascinating musicians. Yet, I still had the teaching dream in the back of my mind, always lingering, lying dormant, ready to be awakened.

My family is my priority and therefore my journey to becoming a teacher has been a long one. While getting hired as a part-time Teacher Assistant at Oak Lane Child Care Center in Chappaqua, New York I was able to work and get home in time for my youngest daughter to get off the bus. I was hired after my second WCC internship at the center and I was thrilled to be a part of the school team. Yes, it would have been great if I worked full time and made a bigger income, but I needed to do schoolwork at home when my daughters went to bed and drive my daughters around town to do their activities. This is called the balancing act. I think every woman can relate to this subject matter. My husband has always been my biggest cheerleader, he just told me to figure it out and we would make it work. Eventually as my studies increased, I was just attending school and stopped working at Oak Lane CCC. When I was getting towards the end of my Bachelors Degree and I needed to complete my edTPA, while student teaching, I was under so much stress. My family felt the pressure too. It was like running the last few miles of a long marathon with almost no energy left to cross the finish line.  Thank goodness I passed. My two daughters and husband told me that they never wanted to hear those words again, “edTPA.” Therefore, balancing family life and school life is challenging. Thus, the biggest lesson I have learned is that with support, vision and taking slow steps to creating your dream, it can truly be accomplished. The foundation of my family is everything to me.

This is my eleventh year of school, (wow), but if I never had the courage to move forward and attend Westchester Community College in 2005 to pursue my dream I sometimes wonder what my life would look like today. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to expand my mind and carve out a new roadmap in my life and raise my family, at my own pace.

After graduating from WCC with An A.A. S. Degree, I continued my teaching journey at Lehman College and enrolled in their Early Childhood Undergraduate Program and obtained my Bachelor’s Degree with an initial certification in teaching. Lehman College is like a second home to me, well not home, but it is what makes my journey a stepping stone to my dream. One of my daughters is already in college, another on my tail, she is in eleventh grade. Time is always a journey, if you move forward. I am happy to be sitting in my seat for another semester; moving ahead, instead of holding my dreams hostage, for no one to see. Fall 2015 is starting off with familiar faces and warm welcomes.

Fall 2015 is also my second year of teaching in the classroom setting as a head teacher. I teach Preschool at Andrus Early Learning Center in Tuckahoe, New York. The beauty of my current job is that I am able to attend Graduate school while teaching and my schedule is flexible. The flexibility allows me to receive real world experience in the classroom environment while attending classes. It was not easy to find a teaching job outside of the Department of Education. I submitted my resume online for the Universal Pre-k positions on the DOE website first, but I did not receive any replies. Therefore, I needed to submit my resume to other career websites in order to find a teaching job. This experience was daunting. I needed to start working in order to help with tuition for Graduate school and my oldest daughter’s college tuition as an incoming freshman. The race was on; I needed to put my Initial Certification in Early Childhood to work. Fortunately, after several weeks of focusing on finding a job and restless hours of pounding the world wide web pavement, or shall I say searching all resources in cyberspace, I got some replies. I finally felt reassured that my path had some direction, instead of feeling overwhelmed with rejection. I actually had two solid interviews, but no replies right away.

Once again, I started to feel the pressure of wanting to be employed and meet my family obligations. I felt extreme determination and I did not give up. I received an email from The Goddard School regarding working 15 minutes away from home and I went on the interview and they offered me a per diem assistant teacher position on the spot. But, the pay was low. They also did not think I had enough experience to be a head teacher and I was told that I needed to prove myself in order to become a head teacher. This was frustrating. Yet, they were flexible with my school schedule, which was a plus. They told me to think about the job offer and to get back to them by the end of the week.  I thanked the director of the school and drove home.

I had so much on my mind. I asked myself a ton of questions and started an internal monologue: What Should I do?, Should I wait for a better offer?, They are flexible with my school schedule., I want to be head teacher., I have worked so hard. Then, that same evening I replied to an advertisement online for a head teaching position for a learning center. And bingo, the next day they called me back at 9:15 in the morning and they actually woke me up out of a deep sleep. So, they asked if I was interested in interviewing in a group setting for Pre-k head teaching positions. I responded with a quick yes. Meanwhile, I called the receptionist back who scheduled the interview for the learning center and I explained that I had a job offer and if I would be wasting their time for interviewing, because I had a job offer already and I had to give an answer the day after the group interview. The receptionist was wonderful and responded with some great words of wisdom. She told me to explain the situation to the learning center’s interviewers and tell them that I needed to get an answer as soon as possible. I had the interview and I received a call the next day. It was my birthday and I landed the job. This was great news. I was getting to continue my journey of following my dream of having my own classroom.

Finally, after attending school for ten years, raising a family, working part-time as a teacher’s assistant and believing in myself had paid off. A piece of paper does not determine your success in life; it is what you do with that piece of paper that matters. My journey is about broadening my mind and helping children become the best they can be, to see the possibilities within their world. Receiving my Graduate Degree in Literacy will allow me to recognize the strengths and weaknesses within a child’s literacy development and help me understand the necessary tools to engaging a student’s love of reading and writing and expressing themselves. Literacy is power.