March 6, 2018: Hometowns and High-Stakes

The only one who can tell you ‘you can’t’ is you. And you don’t have to listen.”

– Nike. 

I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I’ve always been sort of envious of people who knew from a young age what they wanted to do. That wasn’t me. When I thought about the future after high school, all I really knew was that I wanted to move out of my hometown.

I’d like a sidebar. (Five full days in, I’m sure you’ve noticed I sidebar often.)

I DO NOT hate my hometown. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I LOVE Houston. It changed my life and made me who I am. If my parents hadn’t decided to move back to their hometown (which was in large part because of me and my difficulty in school), I would have taken a very different path in life.

My reason for wanting to move will sound convoluted (what can I say, I’m an over thinker). The base fact is, I’m independent (often to a fault).  I thrive off of knowing I am capable. Back home I know SO many family and friends who would have done anything to help me. Which is both a wonderful thing and a terrible thing to an independent person. If I hadn’t moved away I would have constantly doubted if had earned what I had or if it had been given to me.

Back to the topic at hand.

The first time I had an inkling that I enjoyed teaching I was a Junior. One of few scholarships I earned in school was for the A+ program. The requirements of this include tutoring. In our school system, you were assigned to a specific teacher. In my application I had specifically asked not to be placed in the elementary school.

I don’t know why. I had it in my head I didn’t like kids.  I think I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to relate to young kids. After all, f I had a hard time relating to my peers, surely younger kids would be even more difficult. Right? Nope. It turned out that wasn’t the case.

Despite my request, I was placed in a third grade classroom. Man did I have fun. Those kids were awesome!

I still didn’t want to be a teacher.

Why? I struggled in school. I was a sped. student. I still needed a spell checker in Junior year. I got mostly C’s. I DID NOT do well on my ACT. I had taken algebra, not once, not twice, but three times (four by the time I finished my undergrad). I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go to college. I could keep going…

The first thing that led me toward teaching was a school employee. Unfortunately, not in a good way. Senior year I was asked by them what my plans were after graduation (they were talking to a lot of other kids in my class about the same thing).

“I don’t know,” I said.

“I think you should consider a technical school,” they replied.

“Oh yeah?” I responded.

“Well, I just think you’d have more success there than at a real college.”

If you don’t know anything about me here’s one thing you should know. I don’t like for people to say or imply that I’m incapable. Funny thing is, I had been telling myself this for years (as seen from the earlier paragraph). But hearing the idea voiced from someone else (especially the someone in question) firmed my resolve.

I was going to college (if for nothing else, than to prove them wrong).

Another side bar…

I think technical schools are awesome!! I probably would have made more money if that had been my final choice. And in many ways it would have been more difficult for me than university. I just didn’t appreciate the implication that it’s what I should choose because I didn’t have the ability to make it in college.

I won’t get into all of my trials and tribulations for the next six years. I will tell you this. I went into the education program for two reasons.

  1. That inkling I felt back in Junior year helping in the third grade classroom.
  2. I was attending Ozark Christian College and had just recently come to the realization vocational ministry was not going to be my path (another story there). Even though that was the case I really enjoyed learning at OCC and wanted to stay. So, I decided a co-operative degree with Southern was by best shot. There were fewer options back then. I KNEW the others options available to me where a hard no. Therefore, I enrolled in Southerns education program.

I still didn’t know I wanted to be a teacher.

Five years pass. I’m grunting my way through my classes and holding my breath that I’m not throwing money in the toilet. I’m sent out to junior block in Carl Junction. I’m placed in a 5th grade class. The teacher is called away for a minute and asks me to pick up where she left off in Roald Dahl’s The Witches.

And…I knew. FOR REAL FOR THE FIRST TIME KNEW.

I don’t know why. I didn’t do anything grand. To the best of my knowledge no student had an “ah-ha” moment. There was no angel chorus. The class didn’t spontaneously jump up into a standing ovation. (That would have made cooler story.)

I just knew.

And…despite the days were I want to lay down and give up.

I still know.

And once you know, there’s no going back.

-“All that was left was love and wonder.”

(Last line in The Ya-Ya Sisterhood)

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4 thoughts on “March 6, 2018: Hometowns and High-Stakes

  1. Caitlin Bever says:

    By choosing to go to Ozark, I’d say you did more than prove your former teacher wrong! Most people might not think that way, but as Ozark alum, I know it to be true. Ozark degrees are NOT easy. Pssh! Way to prove ’em wrong, Laura! On a side note, wanting to be independent and “earn my way” are exactly why I did not want to move back to Eldon as well.

    Like

  2. Nellie M Mitchell says:

    You should be so proud of yourself! That is s great story. I think a lot of great educators find their way into a classroom on a similar path….they don’t know for sure, until they just know.

    Like

  3. Julie Stover says:

    I love your story and the fight you have in you! Keep on keeping on and never let anyone tell you “you can’t” because you certainly can and look where you are today! I can’t wait to hear what story you share next as I enjoy reading them.

    Like

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