Twenty years ago, teaching seemed like an obvious career choice for me. I loved children’s literature, my best subjects in school were English and history, and I was on track to get a liberal arts degree; however, I wasn’t passionate about teaching at the time, and fortunately, did not settle on it as a default career. If I had entered the profession then, I’m not sure I would have had the confidence, conviction, or motivation to be an effective educator.
Eventually, a passion for social justice led me to my first career as a librarian. I believe that everyone should have equal access to information and educational resources, and I truly enjoyed providing information and education to people of all ages in my community. I worked as a librarian for nine years, mostly in children’s services where I became an advocate for early literacy and family literacy. This advocacy led me to work in close proximity with school librarians during the summer months. We worked tirelessly collecting and delivering new and used books to children who visited our city’s free summer meal sites. Our motivation was in assuring that all school-age children would have access to books to support their literacy and would know the joy of book ownership. Partnering with school librarians and witnessing the children’s enthusiasm for reading truly opened my eyes to the impact that public schools, literacy, and education in general can have on the community as a whole. Through this experience and my experiences facilitating classes for elementary-aged children in the library, I realized that true education is less about imparting knowledge, and more about supporting students as they develop the intellectuals tools they need to become creative and critical thinkers. This realization spoke to my passion for social justice, and I now feel a calling to take on a greater role providing a quality education for the children in my community.
It was during my time as a youth services librarian at the Denton Public Library when I realized that my true calling was for elementary education. During my time at the library, I served children ages birth through fifth grade, but always preferred working with grades K-3. As a librarian, I facilitated classes for this age in which they learned through play. Observing them as they developed their problem solving skills and started to grasp complex concepts always satisfied me more than any other part of my job. As the children’s librarian, I also advocated for family literacy and encouraged book ownership and the importance of daily reading in the home, particularly during the summer months for school-age children. This experience made me realize some of the disparities among students in regards to home life, economic level, and physical and intellectual limitations. Observing these disparities motivates me to serve those students who face the greatest challenges. Since the ability to read is one of the most important keys to opportunity, I would like to eventually become either a dyslexia specialist or Reading Recovery teacher. Until then, I’m most interested in teaching in a special education classroom or being an inclusion teacher, but I would also be happy teaching in a conventional K-3 classroom. I’m very eager to start my new career, but as a lifelong learner, I’m also looking forward to the educational journey that will get me there.