Happy Thursday! My sweet blog friend Daisy is taking over today and I couldn’t be more excited! Daisy blogs over at Simplicity Relished (SUCH a lovely blog!). Today she’s sharing with us why she wants to become a special education teacher in an urban residency program. Keep reading to find out more about Daisy and her passion for teaching – then head over to her blog to read a letter I wrote to my students. 🙂
Usually when I tell people that I’m applying to an urban teacher residency program in Los Angeles to teach special education, I receive one of two reactions. And both of them start with “Wow.” The first reaction is along the lines of “That sounds like a hard job… you must be such a good person.” And the second is more reminiscent of “What an un-prestigious career. Why would you do that?”
I don’t really know when it first occurred to me that I wanted to be a teacher. But I remember the first time I realized that mentoring younger kids was a passion of mine. Throughout high school and in college, I spent time abroad working with children who lived in rural and urban poverty. Much stronger than my desire to help them with their English skills was my curiosity about who they would become once they grew up. These children so quickly trusted me, admired me, and followed me everywhere– and not, I don’t think, simply because I was American. They desired to have an example to imitate. They wanted someone to aspire to be.
And I could relate to this. I, too, was constantly looking for role models and inspiration as a girl growing up. While I loved my parents and nearly worshiped my mother, I also looked up to other women and older girls who possessed qualities that I admired. I wanted to be like them– to talk like them, dress like them, even to laugh like they did.
So what does it mean to grow up underprivileged and underserved? I want to understand that first hand. There are so many stresses on impoverished families– both here in the US and abroad– that often children are denied the type of mentorship they need. And instead, they are shaped by the pressures to which they are inevitably exposed, often forced to grow up quickly and fend for themselves.
I realized that I desired to intervene in that process of premature growing-up: to be a positive force, a voice of encouragement, and one they could trust and follow. And I knew that the best way to be consistent presence in their lives was to be their teacher. That’s how I chose my profession for the next season of my life.
So is it about being a good person, or is it about throwing away prestige? The truth is, neither of these issues reflect what it means for me to teach. Instead, I desire to teach because the God I love is transforming this world. And he invites me to enter into the work he is doing: healing broken hearts, rescuing the oppressed, lifting up the downtrodden and empowering the disempowered.
I desire not only for the children of America to learn to read, think critically, and have the option of attending college. I do desire that, but I also desire for them to experience true joy, friendship, confidence, gratitude, and hope. I want to walk with them through the highs and lows of becoming adults, because I believe it to be something we all need. And by the grace of God, I will be that source of comfort and leadership for them, a refuge in the midst of a strange and imbalanced society.
Frederick Buechner once said, “The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” For me, that means being there for children who are growing up. What does it mean for you?